Thursday, 18 July 2019

G 2/19 - Breaking: Haar belongs to Munich

We refer to our previous blog post about referral G 2/19 (and this related post). In G 2/19, the following questions were referred to the Enlarged Board:

(1) In appeal proceedings, is the right to oral proceedings under Article 116 EPC restricted if the appeal is prima facie inadmissible?

(2) If the answer to Question 1 is yes, is an appeal against the decision to grant a patent prima facie inadmissible in this sense, which Appeal has been filed by a third party within the meaning of Article 115 EPC and which has been substantiated by arguing that there is no alternative remedy under the EPC against a decision of the Examining Division not to consider the third party’s objections concerning the alleged contravention of Article 84 EPC?

(3) If the answer to one of the first two questions is no, can the Board hold oral proceedings in Haar without violating Article 116 EPC, if the appellant complains that this location is not in conformity with the EPC and requests that the oral proceedings be moved to Munich?

Today, the following communication was posted on the EPO website:
Haar, 17 July 2019 
Yesterday the Enlarged Board of Appeal announced its decision in case G 2/19 at the conclusion of the oral proceedings. The first referred question was rejected as inadmissible. The second and third referred questions were reformulated and answered as follows: 
1. Ein Dritter im Sinne von Artikel 115 EPÜ, der gegen die Entscheidung über die Erteilung eines europäischen Patents Beschwerde eingelegt hat, hat keinen Anspruch darauf, dass vor einer Beschwerdekammer des Europäischen Patentamtes mündlich über sein Begehren verhandelt wird, zur Beseitigung vermeintlich undeutlicher Patentansprüche (Artikel 84 EPÜ) des europäischen Patents den erneuten Eintritt in das Prüfungsverfahren anzuordnen. Eine solchermaßen eingelegte Beschwerde entfaltet keine aufschiebende Wirkung. 
2. Mündliche Verhandlungen der Beschwerdekammern an deren Standort in Haar verstoßen nicht gegen die Artikel 113 (1) und 116 (1) EPÜ. 
The reasons for the decision will be issued in writing in due course.

It would appear that the Enlarged Board found that Haar belongs to the greater Munich area, thus not contradicting the provisions of the EPC concerning the location of the EPO.

Furthermore, a third party within the meaning of Article 115 EPC, who has filed an appeal against the decision to grant a European patent, has no right to an oral hearing before a Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office on his request to re-examine allegedly unclear patent claims (Article 84 EPC) in the European patent.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Revised Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal in force from 1 January 2020

On 4 July 2019, a communication was posted  the Board of Appeal website indicating that the revised Rules of Procedure were approved by the Administrative Council and will come into force on 1 January 2020. 

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

T 551/15 - Outcome of G 1/18 not relevant (?)

Within the two-month period under Article 108 EPC, the opponent filed notice of appeal and paid the corresponding appeal fee. On 17 March 2015, i.e. prior to the expiry of the two-month period under Article 108 EPC, the patent proprietor submitted, via the electronic filing system, a document entitled "Letter accompanying subsequently filed items". The document indicated the patent application number, the name and address of the representative and the representative's reference number. Under the heading "Fees" it specified the fee for appeal, and under the heading "Payment" it contained a debit order authorising the EPO to debit the appeal fee from the deposit account, followed by the details as to the deposit account and an indication relating to where any reimbursement was to be made. The document did not contain any further text, nor was it accompanied by any further document. The payment of the appeal fee was effected with the date of 17 March 2015. In its statement of grounds of appeal, the patent proprietor stated: "Further to the Notice of Appeal filed on 17.03.2015 by the payment of the appropriate fee, we hereby submit the Grounds of Appeal...". Together with this letter, the patent proprietor filed claim sets as the main request and auxiliary requests. Did the proprietor file a notice of appeal? If so, did he file it in time or too late? if it was too late, was the appeal deemed not filed or inadmissble? Did the proprietor's appeal get into existence? Did the opponent get the appeal fee reimbursed (which can only be done if there was no legal basis for its payment or if there is a legal provision for the refund/reimbursement)? What is the effect of G 1/18 on this case - in particular, did it need to be stayed? Is it of relevance herein that appeal proceedings anyhow got into existence due to the appeal of the opponent, and that the proprietor would be a party as of right in both situations (deemed not filed or inadmissible)? If G 1/18 is applicable, but the case is not stayed as the outcome on the merits of the appeal does not change, can a decision on the reimbursement/refund be made without staying in view of the relevance of G 1/18 on that decision (esp. as refund is not at the discretion of the EPO/Board)?