20 May 2022
Yesterday the SACEPO Working Party on Guidelines ("SACEPO WPG") met online following the recently concluded public consultation on the Guidelines 2022. The members discussed the requested clarifications in the Guidelines for Examination in the EPO (EPC Guidelines) and Guidelines for Search and Examination at the EPO as PCT Authority (PCT-EPO Guidelines). A summary of the user consultation results as to participation and focus of the observations was presented and will also be published soon. Following these discussions with the SACEPO WPG, about 70% of the proposed comments received were adopted.
Users' comments in the consultation concerning the EPC Guidelines mostly related to three topics: the "adaptation of the description" at grant stage; biotechnology inventions; and rapidly changing fields of technology, like computer-implemented inventions. After discussing the particular needs for clarification by the users, the SACEPO WPG members agreed to update chapters relating to the patentability of antibodies and computer-implemented inventions in Part G of the EPC Guidelines. With respect to the Office's practice concerning the "adaptation of the description", the EPO understood the users' concerns as to the need of more certainty. The users were invited to join the online workshop on this topic organised by the EPO for 23 June 2022.
With regard to users' comments received for the PCT-EPO Guidelines, further improvements to Part A, 'Guidelines for Formalities Examination', were proposed and welcomed.
The second regular meeting of the SACEPO Working Party on Guidelines will take place on 11 October 2022. The members will then discuss the draft Guidelines 2023 and agree on further improvements before the Guidelines enter into force on 1 March 2023.