5 May 2023
At the latest meeting of the SACEPO Working Party on Guidelines (4 May 2023) the members discussed the responses to the public user consultation on the EPC and PCT-EPO Guidelines.
On opening the meeting, the Office presented an outlook on this year’s Guidelines revision cycle and beyond, which was well received by the members of the SACEPO Working Party on Guidelines. Major improvements are planned:
- The EPO wishes to ensure full transparency of the work on the Guidelines by publishing all comments and the consultation results reached on a new “Guidelines” webpage to be launched in autumn 2023.
- The EPO will enhance – section-by-section – the readability of the Guidelines by modernising the language, and by aligning their content with the ongoing digital transformation at the EPO. The users stated that they would also appreciate a move towards a more gender-neutral language in all versions.
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. Regarding the latter, the users were satisfied to learn that the EPO presently reviews its practice to achieve more clarity for applicants of divisional applications. A detailed discussion on adaptation of description and claim-like clauses took place. The Office summarised the study on the practice and the users noted that there had been some development in the practice while stressing that they would maintain their general concerns. The comments also expressed appreciation of updates throughout the Guidelines, e.g. on clarified examples or on third-party observations. Users requested more clarifications regarding the patentability of antibodies. Where the requested updates could not be adopted, a detailed explanation including the relevant legal background was given during the meeting.
With regard to the fewer comments received for the PCT-EPO Guidelines, almost all of the suggested improvements were taken on board.
The comments from all users that were discussed during this meeting laid the basis for the updates to next year’s Guidelines. The draft EPC and PCT-EPO Guidelines 2024 will be distributed to the members of the SACEPO Working Party on Guidelines before the summer break for their review and further comments.
The second regular meeting of the SACEPO Working Party on Guidelines in the revision cycle 2023 will take place on 10 October 2023. The members will then discuss the draft Guidelines 2024 and agree on further improvements before the Guidelines enter into force on 1 March 2024.
Below is a statistical summary of the 125 users’ comments received: