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Guidelines for Examination in the European Patent Office

November 2017 edition

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.

Content description

By decision of the President of the EPO dated 4 August 2017 and pursuant to Article 10(2) EPC, the Guidelines for Examination have been amended. As announced in the Notice from the EPO dated 4 August 2017 (OJ EPO 2017, A75), the new Guidelines apply as from 1 November 2017.

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
  • PartD: 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 summarises 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:

  • PartF 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 (Rule80 and Rule137) and compliance with Art.123(2) and (3), Rule139 and Rule140.

Available formats and amendments

The revised Guidelines for Examination (November 2017) are available online in the EPO's three official languages in both PDF and HTML format. The printed version has been discontinued.

Amendments in the 2017 revision have been made in all eight parts in order to bring the text into line with legal and procedural developments.

The amendments can be viewed in the HTML publication by ticking the "Show modifications" box in the upper right corner, which displays inserted text with a green background and deleted text in red strikethrough font. For sections in which no changes have been made, the tick box is greyed out. The EPO website also provides two downloadable versions of the Guidelines in PDF format, one clean copy and one version showing all modifications.

The HTML and PDF versions all contain:

  1. a non-exhaustive alphabetical keyword index;
  2. an index dedicated to computer-implemented inventions (CII), with a collection of direct hyperlinks to the relevant chapters in the Guidelines;
  3. a full list of the sections which have been amended, together with the corresponding hyperlinks.

Please use our advanced search to search within full-text HTML versions of EPO legal texts. You can limit your search to one or more of these texts.

Important notice: The November 2017 edition of the Guidelines is the only valid official version, and supersedes the November 2016 edition as from 1 November 2017.