Report of the European Patent Practice Committee (EPPC)

C. Mercer (GB), ChairC. Mercer (GB), Chair

This report covers the period from the last Council meeting in Sofia to the Council meeting in Lisbon.

The EPPC is the largest committee of the epi, but also the one with the broadest remit: it has to consider and discuss all questions pertaining to, or connected with, practice under (1) the EPC, (2) the PCT and (3) the future EU Patent Regulation, including any revision thereof, except all questions reserved for the Biotech or Harmonisation Committees.

The EPPC is presently organised with seven permanent sub-committees (EPC, Guidelines, MSBA, PCT, Trilateral & IP5, Quality, Unitary Patent and Patent Documentation). Additionally, ad hoc working groups are set up when the need arises. Four thematic subcommittees have also been set up (Mechanics, Pharma, ICT and Chemistry). Members of EPPC are also delegates to various meetings organised by the EPO, including meetings under the SACEPO banner.


Michel Gilio (BE) has been elected to EPPC.

Alain Werner (FR) is now a member of the Pharma Thematic Group.


17/01/2019 - SACEPO-WPR
A copy of the report of the above-referenced meeting is attached (Annex 1).

02/05/2019 - Meeting with VP1
Combined notes on a meeting with VP1 on May 2019, which took place before the Sofia Council meeting, are attached (Annex 2).

11-13/06/2019 - PCT Sub-Committee
A note on a meeting at WIPO attended by our PCT Subcommittee Chair is attached (Annex 3).

03/07/2019 - ICT Thematic Group
The ICT Thematic Group has been involved in drafting an amicus curiae brief for submission in connection with the reference to the Enlarged Board of Appeal in case G1/19 on simulation. This brief has now been filed. A copy is attached (Annex 4).

27/08/2019 - EPPC / Biotech Meeting regarding G3/19
I met with two members of the Biotech Committee to begin drafting of an amicus brief for filing in connection with Enlarged Board case G3/19. This is a very politically-charged subject and will be reported on by the Biotech Committee.

17-18/09/2019 - Guidelines Subcommittee Meeting
A report from the Guidelines Subcommittee is attached and also attached are documents referred to in the report (Annex 5).

18/09/2019 - SACEPO-WPR
A copy of the report of the above-referenced meeting is attached (Annex 6). Also attached is a copy of a document on Cancellation of Translation Services for Oral Proceedings (Annex 7) and a summary of conclusions (Annex 8). An article about this can be found here.

The biggest point which is under discussion for EPPC is on Streamlining Procedures. The EPO has come up with a number of proposals, as shown in the attached PowerPoint presentation (Annex 9) and document (Annex 10). These will need to be studied in detail and epi positions on many points will need to be taken.

27/09/2019 - WIPO Conversation on Intellectual Property (IP) and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Delegates from the ICT Thematic Group attended the above event. A report on the event will appear in epi Information. A copy of the summary of conversation, prepared by WIPO, is attached (Annex 11). Further documents can be found on web page:

01/10/2019 - Meeting of Chemistry Subcommittee with EPO Directors
Delegates from the “Chemistry” sub-committee met with the EPO 1st October 2019. Subject matters discussed included:

  • Added subject matter – instances of inappropriate application of the “two list” approach to novelty to find added subject matter
  • Clarity relating to alloy formulations – where it was confirmed that closed lists of components are required but it is not necessary to specifically include the word “impurities”
  • Assessment of claims relating to unusual parameters – where reference was made to the amended Guidelines published that day.
  • Prior use and implicit disclosure and the difficulty of proof
  • Product by process claims – their assessment and allowability.

The discussions were open. All agreed that a repetition next year would be welcomed.

16-17/10/2019 - Meeting of Pharma Subcommittee with EPO Directors
A report on the above-referenced meeting is attached (Annex 12), together with copies of two EPO documents presented at the meeting. This report and the documents should NOT be further distributed as the EPO wishes to keep the details of the meeting confidential. If there are any questions which arise from the meeting, please contact

11/11/2019 - Meeting of Mechanics Subcommittee with the EPO Directors
The meeting took place and a report will follow in due course.

Case Law Seminars

Members of EPPC have been assisting PEC by presenting topics at a series of Case Law Seminars. These seminars are presented by two epi members and two Board of Appeal members and include a mock oral proceedings.

References to the Enlarged Board of Appeal

This period has seen significant work on preparing amicus curiae briefs in respect of a number of references to the Enlarged Board of Appeal.
G1/19 – As noted above, the ICT Subcommittee produced a brief which was filed in connection with the referral on “simulation”.

G2/19 – A small group was formed to prepare a brief for filing in connection with the “Haar” referral. The oral proceedings on this referral took place earlier this year and the opinion of the Enlarged Board has now been issued. The basic answer was that it is in conformity with the EPC to hold oral proceedings in Haar.

G3/19 – EPPC has been co-ordinating with the Biotech Committee to produce a brief in connection with the referral on plants produced by essentially biological processes. This will be reported on by the Biotech Committee. The brief has now been filed.

G4/19(??) – We have been aware for some time that there will be a reference to the Enlarged Board on double patenting. However, the referring decision has not yet been issued. A Working Group has been formed to prepare a brief and is ready to spring into action.

G5/19(??) – During the meeting of the Guidelines Subcommittee, it was noticed that there are two lines of case law relating to novelty as regards ranges. It appeared that this is a situation where the President of the EPO should refer a question to the Enlarged Board. A letter regarding this has been sent to the President of the EPO (Annex 13). The letter is deliberately short and does not say in which way epi considers the question should be decided. If the President agrees to refer a question to the Enlarged Board, epi will prepare and submit a brief.

Further Meetings

There are a number of other meetings which will take place between the drafting of this report and the Council meeting. If possible, reports of those meetings will be provided before the Council meeting, such as the note in Annex 14.

* All Annexes are available at: