On 5 May 2023 the EPO published its evaluation of the feedback on this year’s EPO Guidelines for Examination, which was discussed at the latest meeting of the SACEPO Working Party on Guidelines. The working party discussed the responses to an online survey for interested parties earlier this year. The survey gave interested parties the opportunity to comment on aspects of the new 2023 Guidelines.
The users’ comments covered a broad range of topics, including the EPO’s practice regarding oral proceedings via videoconference, adaptation of the description and WIPO Standard ST.26 concerning the presentation of amino acid and nucleotide sequence listings. The EPO has categorised the responses by Guideline section and also by occupation of the responders.
As with the surveys of 2022 and 2021, one of the discussion points was on the Guidelines for amendments to the description and claim-like clauses. This was one of the larger topics because 27% of the 125 responses related to Part F of the Guidelines, which contains this particular chapter (F-IV, 4.3).
Other notable topics that the working group discussed were the EPO’s use of video conferencing for oral proceedings, the addition of clarifying examples for third party observations, and questions from users about the patentability of antibodies.
The comments and suggestions will be incorporated into the next cycle of amendments of the Guidelines. Where suggestions and comments from users were not able to be taken on board, a detailed response will be published citing the legal basis for the decision.
Other Improvements to the Guidelines
The EPO decided that it will improve its service by increasing its transparency by publishing the above-mentioned responses that they receive on the Guidelines on a new website by November 2023.
It is also reported that the language used in the Guidelines will be modernised to improve readability. Users indicated that they would also like to see a move towards more gender-neutral language in all versions.
To read the full EPO publication, see here.