The Guidelines for Examination give instructions on the practice and procedure to be followed in the various aspects of the examination of European applications and patents in accordance with the European Patent Convention and its Implementing Regulations.
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By decision of the President of the EPO dated 16 December 2021 and pursuant to Article 10(2) EPC, the Guidelines for Examination have been amended. As announced in the Notice from the EPO dated 16 December 2021 (OJ EPO 2022, A10), the new Guidelines apply as from 1 March 2022.
The Guidelines have the following eight-part structure:
- Part A: Guidelines for Formalities Examination
- Part B: Guidelines for Search
- Part C: Guidelines for Procedural Aspects of Substantive Examination
- Part D: Guidelines for Opposition and Limitation/Revocation Procedures
- Part E: Guidelines on General Procedural Matters
- Part F: The European Patent Application
- Part G: Patentability
- Part H: Amendments and Corrections
Part A outlines the procedures for formalities examination, mainly with regard to grant proceedings. Part B deals with search matters. Parts C and D relate to procedures to be followed in examination and opposition proceedings, respectively.
Part E summarizes procedural matters relevant to several or all of the stages in proceedings before the EPO. It also contains information about the procedure before the EPO as designated or elected Office, applicable to Euro-PCT applications.
Substantive requirements of the procedures under the EPC are explained in Parts F, G and H:
- Part F defines the requirements which the application must fulfil other than patentability, in particular unity of invention (Art. 82), sufficiency of disclosure (Art.83), clarity (Art. 84) and the right to priority (Art. 87 to Art. 89).
- Part G deals with the requirements of patentability provided for in Art. 52 to Art.57, in particular exclusions from patentability (Art. 52(2) and Art. 53), novelty (Art. 54), inventive step (Art. 56) and industrial application (Art. 57).
- Part H deals with the requirements relating to amendments and corrections, in particular to questions of admissibility (Rule 80 and Rule 137) and compliance with Art. 123(2) and (3), Rule139 and Rule140.