The updated EPO Guidelines for Examination will enter into force on 1 March 2023. A draft version of the Guidelines can be previewed here. The main updates this year are those taking account of the new sequence listing standard, the imminent arrival of the Unified Patent Court and the new Rule 56a EPC on erroneously filed parts.
Missing and erroneous parts
The Guidelines have been amended throughout to reflect the introduction of Rule 56a EPC in 2021 (A-II-6). New Rule 56a EPC relates to procedures by which an applicant can correct "erroneously filed" parts of a European patent application (OJ EPO 2022, A3). Previously, the EPC only provided provisions by which "missing parts" could be filed. Given that such parts were classified as missing, they would be added to the parts already forming the patent application. However, this put the EPC at odds with PCT Rule 20.5bis, added to the PCT in 2020, which also allows applicants to replace "erroneously" filed parts. This allows the applicant to avoid publication of parts of the description, claims or drawings that were filed incorrectly (e.g. in cases where the drawings were mixed up with those of a different application when the application was filed). Read more