Examination at the EPO as PCT Authority
November 2019 edition
The Guidelines for Search and Examination at the EPO as PCT Authority give instructions on the practice and procedure to be followed in various aspects of the handling of international applications before the EPO as International Searching Authority and International Preliminary Examining Authority.
By decision of the President of the EPO pursuant to Article 10(2) EPC, the Guidelines for Search and Examination at the EPO as PCT Authority have been amended. As announced in the notice from the EPO dated 12 August 2019 (OJ EPO 2019, A81), they apply as from 1 November 2019.
The Guidelines have the following seven-part structure:
- Part A: Guidelines for Formalities Examination
- Part B: Guidelines for Search
- Part C: Guidelines for Procedural Aspects in Chapter II
- Part E: Guidelines on General Procedural Matters
- Part F: The International Application
- Part G: Substantive Requirements of the Application
- Part H: Amendments and Corrections
Part A deals with the procedures for formalities examination when the EPO acts as receiving Office, (Supplementary) International Searching Authority and International Preliminary Examining Authority. Part B deals with search matters when the EPO acts as (Supplementary) International Searching Authority. Part C relates to procedures to be followed in Chapter II when the EPO acts as International Preliminary Examining Authority.
Part E deals with procedural matters relevant to several or all of the stages of the procedure before the EPO as International Authority.
Substantive requirements are explained in Parts F, G and H:
- Part F deals with the requirements which the application must fulfil other than patentability, in particular unity of invention (Rule13 PCT), sufficiency of disclosure (Art.5PCT), clarity (Art.6PCT) and the right to priority (Art.8PCT).
- Part G deals with subject-matter excluded from search (Art.17(2)(a)(i) and Rule39 PCT) and examination (Art.34(4)(a)(i) and Rule67PCT), novelty (Art.33(2)PCT), inventive step (Art.33(3)PCT) and industrial application (Art.33(4)PCT).
- Part H deals with the requirements relating to amendments and corrections, in particular compliance with Art.19(2)PCT and Art.34(2)(b)PCT.
Available formats and amendments
The revised Guidelines for Search and Examination at the EPO as PCT Authority (November 2019) are available online in the EPO's three official languages in both PDF and HTML format.
In the 2019 revision, amendments have been made in all parts. The major change is the expansion of Part A, which now includes a chapter dedicated to filing international applications and formal examination upon filing (Chapter II) and a chapter dedicated to drawings (Chapter V).
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.
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Important notice: The November 2019 edition of these Guidelines is the only valid official version, and supersedes the November 2018 edition as from 1 November 2019.