Notice from the European Patent Office dated 16 December 2021 concerning the updating of the Guidelines for Examination in the European Patent Office
By decision of the President of the EPO dated 16 December 2021 and pursuant to Article 10(2) EPC, the Guidelines for Examination in the European Patent Office (EPC Guidelines) have been amended in line with the EPO's policy to provide an annual update. The 2022 edition of the EPC Guidelines is the second to be drawn up in line with the new revision-cycle arrangements.[ 1 ] These arrangements ensure greater user involvement in the form of a public online consultation and two annual meetings with the members of the SACEPO Working Party on Guidelines. The amended EPC Guidelines, which will enter into force on 1 March 2022, will be published as a complete March 2022 edition that will supersede the March 2021 edition.
The new EPC Guidelines will be published electronically and will be available in all three official languages on the EPO website at epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/guidelines.html, where they can be downloaded free of charge.
The EPC Guidelines are available in PDF format – consisting of a clean copy and a version showing all modifications – and in HTML format. Within each section of the HTML version, the actual amendments can be viewed by ticking the Show modifications box in the top right-hand corner. A full list of the sections which have been amended, together with corresponding hyperlinks, is also available.
As a courtesy service, a preview of the English version will be made available on the EPO website at the beginning of February for advance information.
Amendments have been made to all eight parts of the EPC Guidelines. Some of them result from decisions of the Enlarged Board of Appeal and other boards of appeal, while others are based on decisions of the President and procedural changes; some updates have been made in response to user requests for further clarification of the EPO's practice.
In particular, the EPC Guidelines have been amended to clarify EPO practice in relation to the adaptation of the description following a dedicated workshop and an extraordinary meeting with the SACEPO Working Party on Guidelines in November 2021.[ 2 ] Major updates were made to the sections relating to computer-implemented inventions, which have been revised in the light of decision G 1/19 on computer-implemented simulations, and to incorporate further examples, including one relating to artificial intelligence. In addition, the sections on inventions in the field of biotechnology have been further clarified, particularly as regards inventions relating to the genetic modification of animals. The EPC Guidelines were also updated to include the EPO's new online filing tool Online Filing 2.0. A number of clarifications and updates regarding the EPO's practice have been added to Parts B, C, D, E and H.
Once the preview version of the 2022 edition is published in February 2022, the Guidelines revision cycle will start again with an online user consultation on the newly published Guidelines. Detailed information about the online user consultation, which will run until 15 April 2022 will be published on the EPO website (epo.org) at the beginning of February 2022.[ 3 ]
[ 1 ] See Information concerning the publication of the next edition of the EPO Guidelines (OJ EPO 2020, A108) and epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/guidelines-revision-cycle.html.
[ 2 ] See: epo.org/news-events/news/2021/20211112a.html.
[ 3 ] See:epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/guidelines-revision-cycle/updates/2021/20210607.html.