Thursday, 24 August 2017

T 293/12 - First substantive response after summons

Will the board admit a 'just in time' submission?

What is the position of a party in opposition appeal who did not respond to the statement of the grounds, but did file a submission in response to the summons to oral proceedings? 
In response to the notice of appeal, one of the opponents (respondent 2) filed a brief letter stating that it would await the statement of grounds of appeal and announced its intention to submit a reply later in due course. After the statement of the grounds was filed, the board set a time limit of 4 month to file such a response. However, no further submissions were filed until a month before oral proceedings. 
The proprietor considers that the opponent has lost it chance to file arguments, by not filing a timely response to the statement of the grounds--since the opponent had not filed a reply to the grounds of appeal, one cannot regard its later submission as an amendment to a party's case. On the other hand, the opponent considers the submission to be just further arguments, and sees no reason why they should not be admitted. The board find a middle ground, taking the submission into account but as a later amendment to a party's case.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

T 1090/12 - Common general knowledge referred to by a board

Under what circumstances does common general knowledge require proof? And who has to provide proof: applicants/proprietors, opponents, examining divisions, opposition divisions, and boards of appeal, any differences or all alike? Is it required that doubt is substantiated -rather than just asserted- as to its existence before it has to be proven? The Case Law Book (8th edition, July 2016) provides in section I.C.2.8.5 "Proof of common general knowledge": "Where an assertion that something is common general knowledge is challenged, the person making the assertion must provide proof that the subject-matter in question is in fact common general knowledge (T 438/97, T 329/04, T 941/04, T 690/06). In the case of any dispute as to the extent of the relevant common general knowledge this, like any other fact in contention, has to be proved, for instance by documentary or oral evidence (T 939/92, OJ 1996, 309, see also T 766/91, T 1242/04, OJ 2007, 421; T 537/90, T 329/04 and T 811/06). The proof is regularly supplied in citing literature (T 475/88). According to T 766/91 and T 919/97, evidence of general technical knowledge need be submitted only if the latter’s existence is disputed.". In the current case, the board however seems to indicate that the situation is different if the board itself uses common general knowledge to invalidate a claim.

Friday, 18 August 2017

T 1921/12 - Who should sign a 'decision'

In this decision the Board of Appeal is annoyed about the fact that a Rule 140 Correction of a decision of the Examining Division (signed by the whole division) and a Rule 139 Correction of an obvious error (signed only by the primary examiner in the opposition period, i.e. after grant; G 1/10 stopping this process was not yet issued) are not in the public part of the file.
The Board sees the R.139 correction as not valid since no formally correct decision is taken; it would require the signature of the whole Examining Division.   
In the decision several aspects of the problem-solution approach are re-discussed. The Board is also not keen on hearing witnesses. 

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

T 2369/12 - Everything you submit can and will be used against you?

The Examining Division held a particular auxiliary request not to be disclosed in a manner sufficiently clear and complete for it to be carried out by a person skilled in the art (Article 83 EPC).

In the appeal, the applicant now appellant submits a post-published document (Exhibit A) with the title "Efficacy of Enterisol® Ileitis administered to Lawsonia-positive pigs 1 to 6 days of age" and argues that there was no evidence on file that there were serious doubts substantiated by verifiable facts that the application lacked sufficient disclosure, and indeed, that the post-published data contained in "Exhibit A" made it plausible that vaccination with the L. intracellularis vaccine in the face of maternal immunity in young pigs would be effective.

The present case shows the Board scrutinizing Exhibit A and - probably to the dismay of the appellant - concluding that it is in fact Exhibit A which as a whole raises serious doubts on the suitability of the claimed bacteria for vaccination. "Everything you submit can and will be used against you"?

Friday, 4 August 2017

T 488/16 - Not plausible at the filing date

Is it plausible that the compound had the effect?

In this opposition appeal the effect (inhibiting PTK activity) of the claimed compound (dasatinib) was supported with post-published documents: documents (9) and (10) filed during the Examination procedure and documents (36) and (37) filed with the statement of the grounds. 

The application as filed contains a large number of compounds of which one is selected in the claim under appeal. The decision does not contest that the post-published documents show that this compound works, indeed works very well. The question is, whether this was plausible at the filing date. The board maintains the revocation of the patent.