Novelty of sub-ranges

15 May, 2020

Our European Patent Attorney William Helin shares a brief reflection on the EPO Guidelines on novelty of sub-ranges. 

“Did you see that the EPO Guidelines on novelty of sub-ranges were amended late last year? One of the test criteria for novelty of sub-ranges was dropped. Now, the twofold novelty criteria are that the sub-range must be:

1. Narrow compared to known range, and
2. Far removed from end-points and examples.

Thus, the sub-range needs no longer be a purposive selection.  Whether the sub-range is purposive or not is part of the inventive step assessment.

If you are interested, I recommend reading epi Information of December last year. This edition includes a letter from the President of the EPO, motivating the Guidelines change.

Any practical take-aways? Well, when drafting a patent application containing a range, it is advisable to provide even more examples within the range. Further, as before, it is recommended to also provide examples at the range end-points. In some decisions, end-points are given less weight than examples (quite reasonable, in my view).”