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Guidelines for Examination: EPO’s Revised Procedures for Computer-Implemented Inventions

The EPO has published its yearly update to the Guidelines for Examination, which will come into force on 1 November 2017. The updated Guidelines for Examination can be found here, with a list of the amendments made compared to the current version available here. An overview of the changes is provided in our news item here.

In addition to the changes discussed in that news item, there have been a number of changes to the EPO's procedures for computer-implemented inventions (CII). CII claims involve computers, computer networks or other programmable apparatus, whereby at least one feature is realised by means of a program.

The revised CII guidelines explicitly state that CII claims should define all the features which assure the patentability of the process which the computer program is intended to carry out when it is run. It is further stated that a clarity objection may arise if the claims contain program listings. However, short excerpts from programs may be accepted in the description.

The new guidelines apply stricter clarity requirements on CII. Our recommendation is for CII to be described and claimed without program listings, i.e. code. This will reduce the likelihood of a clarity objection being raised. However, if program listings are included, our recommendation is to use pseudo-code instead of actual code. Pseudo-code is intended for human reading and therefore a clearer description of the performed computing steps than actual machine readable code.

A link to the new guidelines on CII is provided here. If you have any questions concerning the above changes, or any of the other changes to the Guidelines for Examination, please contact John Leeming or your usual J A Kemp contact.