31 Dec 2015

T 1384/12 - Notice of appeal with no name

T 1384/12
For the decision, click here.

Key points

  • In this case, the Notice of appeal did not mention the name of the appellant. The appeal is held admissible, because the name was included in the statement of grounds. 


Entscheidungsgründe
1. Die Beschwerde ist zulässig.
1.1 In der mündlichen Verhandlung vor der Kammer hat die Beschwerdegegnerin (Patentinhaberin) geltend gemacht, in der Beschwerdeschrift werde nicht gesagt, wer die Beschwerde erhoben hat. Sie ist daher der Auffassung, die Beschwerde sei unzulässig.
Die Beschwerdeführerin (Einsprechende) ist dem mit dem Argument entgegengetreten, die Identität der Beschwerdeführerin ergebe sich aus dem Zusammenhang. Da lediglich die Einsprechende durch die angefochtene Entscheidung beschwert werde, komme auch nur diese als Beschwerdeführerin in Betracht. Im Übrigen werde die Einsprechende in der Beschwerdebegründung ausdrücklich genannt.
1.2 Es trifft zu, dass die Einsprechende in der Beschwerdeschrift vom 11. Juni 2012 namentlich nicht genannt ist. Ihr Verfahrensbevollmächtigter, der die Einsprechende bereits vor der Einspruchsabteilung vertreten hat, hat dort unter Angabe seines - seit dem Verfahren vor der Einspruchsabteilung unveränderten Aktenzeichens "KNN 039 EPEIN" - lediglich ausgeführt: ,,Hiermit wird Beschwerde gegen die Entscheidung über die Zurückweisung des Einspruchs (Art. 101(2) EPÜ) gegen das Europäische Patent Nr. EP-B-1 650 434 vom 13. April 2012 eingelegt." Namentlich genannt wird die Einsprechende im Beschwerdeverfahren erstmals von der Beschwerdegegnerin in ihrem Schriftsatz vom 29. Juni 2012 und sodann in der Beschwerdebegründung vom 16. August 2012
1.3 Die Kammer vermag aus diesem Ablauf nicht auf die Unzulässigkeit der Beschwerde zu schließen.
1.3.1 Artikel 108 EPÜ und Regel 99 (1) a) EPÜ verlangen zwar, dass Name und Anschrift des Beschwerdeführers in der Beschwerdeschrift anzugeben sind. Die Vorschrift dient damit der Identifizierung des Beschwerdeführers (vgl. Joos/Schmitz, in: Singer/Stauder, EPÜ, 6. Aufl., Art. 108 Rd. 16). Nach Regel 101 (2) EPÜ führt ein Verstoß gegen diese Regel jedoch nur dann zur Unzulässigkeit der Beschwerde, wenn dieser Mangel nicht innerhalb einer von der Beschwerdekammer zu setzenden Frist behoben wird.
1.3.2 In dem vorliegenden Fall hat die Beschwerdekammer zwar keine Frist zur ordnungsgemäßen Benennung der Beschwerdeführerin gesetzt. Die Beschwerdeführerin hat die Einsprechende jedoch in der Beschwerdebegründung namentlich genannt und damit noch innerhalb der für die Beschwerdebegründung geltenden Frist klargestellt, dass die Beschwerde in deren Namen erhoben worden ist. Die Identifizierbarkeit der Beschwerdeführerin ist damit spätestens ab diesem Zeitpunkt gewährleistet, so dass die Beschwerde zulässig ist.

30 Dec 2015

T 2411/13 - Last response not considered

T 2411/13
Link 

Key points
  • " It is clear that the statement of the Examining Division in the appealed decision that no comments had been filed by the appellant in reply to the last communication is not correct ..."


Summary of Facts and Submissions
I. The appellant (applicant) lodged an appeal against the decision of the Examining Division refusing the European patent application 02781000.1 which was dispatched on 7 June 2013. The Examining Division stated that the applicant had been informed in the communication dated 2 May 2012 that the application did not meet the requirements of the EPC. The Examining Division stated furthermore that no comments had been filed in reply to the communication of 2 May 2012.
V. The appellant argued essentially that:
[...]
ii) Right to be heard
The statement of the Examining Division according to which no comments had been filed was incorrect. The applicant had indeed filed comments in the letter dated 12 December 2012 and these were not referred to in the decision under appeal. The comments contained in this letter had therefore not been considered by the Examining Division in reaching its decision.

Reasons for the Decision
[...]
2. Right to be heard
2.1 It is clear that the statement of the Examining Division in the appealed decision that no comments had been filed by the appellant in reply to the last communication is not correct and clearly indicates that the Examining Division did not consider the appellant's arguments filed with the last reply of 12 December 2012.
2.2 Consistent case law of the boards of appeal, see Case Law of the Boards of Appeal, 7th Edition, 2013, Chapter 1.1.1, 1st paragraph, shows that a failure to address in the contested decision the disputed points amounts to an infringement of the right to be heard (Article 113(1) EPC). The arguments contained in the letter of 12 December 2012 should have been taken into account and the failure to do so means that the decision is not sufficiently reasoned as required by Rule 111(2) EPC.
2.3 This constitutes a substantial procedural violation, furthermore as this procedural violation has led to the filing of the appeal then reimbursement of the appeal fee is equitable. The appeal is moreover allowable so that the requirements of Rule 103(1)(a) EPC are met.

29 Dec 2015

T 1554/11 - Second medical use of antibiotics

T 1554/11
Link  (online 28.09.2015)

Key points

  • The Board allows as second medical use claim:
    Use of an antibiotic for the manufacture of a medicament for the treatment or prevention of a bacterial infection in an animal, wherein the medicament is to be injected subcutaneously in the posterior of the ear of the animal, wherein the medicament is an injectable suspension of a sparingly water-soluble antimicrobial agent in a sterile oil.
  • Board: " when a claim is correctly drafted in the format foreseen for second (further) medical use claims, the question of whether a specific feature or technical effect can be recognised as conferring novelty or inventive step are matters to be considered under Articles 54 and 56 EPC. This is also emphasised in section 6.3 of decision G 2/08, in the context of claims characterised by a dosage regime." 


Summary of Facts and Submissions
I. European patent No. 0 969 844, with the application number 98 912 889.7, is based on the international application published as WO 98/41207. It was granted on the basis of one independent and eleven dependent claims; claims 1 and 8 read as follows:
"1. Use of an antibiotic for the manufacture of a medicament for the treatment or prevention of a bacterial infection in an animal, wherein the medicament is to be injected subcutaneously in the posterior of the ear of the animal, wherein the medicament is an injectable suspension of a sparingly water-soluble antimicrobial agent in a sterile oil.
8. The use of any preceding claim, wherein the antibiotic is selected from procaine penicillin, benzathine penicillin, ceftiofur crystalline free acid, ceftiofur hydrochloride, ampicillin trihydrate, amoxicillin trihydrate, oxytetracycline, erythromycin, tylosin, tilmicosin, florfenicol, enrofloxacin, danofloxacin, premafloxacin, ceftiofur sodium and lincomycin hydrochloride."

Reasons for the Decision
6. Article 53(c) EPC
The present claims are second medical use claims in Swiss-type format, as instituted by Enlarged Board of Appeal decision G 5/83 (OJ EPO 1985, 64). It was not disputed by the appellants that this is a valid format for the present patent (cf. Enlarged Board of Appeal decision G 2/08, OJ EPO 2010, 456, paragraph 7.1.4 of the Reasons).
The central argument brought forward by the appellants was that the characterising feature of present claim 1 relating to a specific site for subcutaneous injection, namely, "in the posterior of the ear", did not represent a true therapeutic feature, and therefore fell foul of Article 53(c) EPC.

28 Dec 2015

T 1457/09 - Speculative prior art medical use

T 1457/09 - 17.01.2014
Link [C]

Key points

  • A decision from 2014, that seems still worthwile to report. 
  • According to established case law, "a  disclosure in a prior art document is novelty-destroying only if the teaching it contains is reproducible. This need for an enabling disclosure is in conformity with the principle expressed in Article 83 EPC. Thus, the requirements of sufficiency of disclosure are identical for a prior art document and a patent." (T 1437/07)
  • In T 1457/09 applies this decision to an Art. 54(3) prior right mentioning the now claimed second medical use (compound + disease), however without experimental evidence (in the priority application): this document was not novelty destroying. 
T 1457/09
Novelty - Article 54(3) EPC - claim 4
34. Claim 4 is drafted as a second medical use claim (see section XI above for the complete wording of the claim).
Document (D1)
35. In the decision under appeal (see reasons, section 2.3) the opposition division held that the subject-matter of claim 14 of auxiliary request 1 before it, which corresponds to the subject-matter of present claim 4, was anticipated by the intermediate document (D1). The opposition division considered that both documents (D1) and (D1a) disclosed pharmaceutical compositions comprising the peptide RMFPNAPYL and their use as a cancer vaccine. Appellant I appealed this decision.
36. Pursuant to established case law, a disclosure destroys novelty only if the teaching it contains is reproducible, in other words if it can be carried out by the person skilled in the art (see Case Law of the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Office, 7th edition 2013, section I.C.3.11, and in particular decision T 1437/07 of 26 October 2009, reasons, points 25 and 26 cited in that section). For the requirement of reproducibility to be considered as fulfilled in relation to a medical use it is necessary - following the principles developed by the case law in the framework of the evaluation of Article 83 EPC in the case of a second medical use claim (see decision T 609/02 of 27 October 2004, reasons point 9) - that the disclosure in the prior art document is such as to make it credible that the therapeutic effect on which the disclosed treatment relies can be achieved. Thus, in the present case a prior art document is novelty-destroying only if it discloses not only the product referred to in the claim - here RMFPNAPYL - for the claimed therapeutic application - here treatment of cancer - but also that the claimed product is indeed suitable for the claimed therapeutic application.
37. In the present circumstances (see point 26 above), for document (D1) to anticipate the subject-matter of claim 4, the suitability of RMFPNAPYL for the therapeutic application must be disclosed in both the priority document (D1a) and in document (D1). This follows from Article 89 EPC in combination with decision G 2/98 (OJ EPO 2001, 413, reasons, point 9) wherein the Enlarged Board endorsed a narrow or strict interpretation of the concept of "the same invention", limiting the right to priority to subject-matter which the person skilled in the art can derive directly and unambiguously, using common general knowledge, from the previous application as a whole, see also decision T 107/09 of 12 July 2012 (reasons, points 7 to 10).

24 Dec 2015

T 0265/11 - Basis in the application and translation

T 265/11 - [C]
For the decision, click here. 

Key points

  • The opponent argued that the patent extends beyond the content of the application as filed (the PCT text in Japanese) because of an error in the translation as filed upon entry of the European phase. However, the opponent did not provide evidence that the translation contained an error and the Board assumes that the translation is in conformity with the original text, in accordance with Rule 7 EPC.

  • Rule 7 - Legal authenticity of the translation of the European patent application 
  • Saving proof to the contrary, the European Patent Office may, for the purposes of determining whether the subject-matter of the European patent application or European patent extends beyond the content of the European patent application as filed, assume that the translation referred to in Article 14, paragraph 2, is in conformity with the original text of the application.


Summary of Facts and Submissions
I. The appeal concerns the interlocutory decision of the Opposition Division of the European Patent Office posted on 25 November 2010 concerning maintenance of European Patent No. 1403832 in amended form.
II. The appellant (opponent) requested that the decision under appeal be set aside and that the patent be revoked. Further, the appellant requested that a translation of the original claims into English filed by the appellant with letter dated 15 September 2015 be used for determining whether the subject-matter of the European patent application extends beyond the content of the application as filed.
Reasons for the Decision
1. The appeal is admissible.
2. Request for replacement of the translation of the claims
With letter dated 15 September 2015 the appellant [opponent] filed an uncertified translation of the claims of international application PCT/JP01/05835, which is the original text of the application on which the patent is based. The appellant argued that features b), c), d1) and e1) were different in the originally filed claims with respect to the English translation filed under Article 158(2) EPC 1973 and published.
The appellant requested that the content of the uncertified translation of the claims be used as a basis for the analysis according to Article 123(2) EPC.
According to Article 150(3) EPC 1973 (now Article 153(2) EPC) an international application for which the European Patent Office is a designated or elected Office, and which has been accorded an international date of filing, shall be equivalent to a regular European application. PCT/JP01/05835, for which the European Patent Office is an elected Office, has been accorded an international date of filing of 4 July 2001. Therefore, Rule 7 EPC 1973 (corresponding to Rule 7 EPC) applies mutatis mutandis to the translation of PCT/JP01/05835 filed under Article 158(2) EPC 1973.
No evidence was provided that the translation filed under Article 158(2) EPC 1973 is not in conformity with the original text of the application. Thus, in accordance with Rule 7 EPC 1973, the board assumes that the translation on file is in conformity with the original text of the application for determining whether the subject matter of the European patent extends beyond the content of the application as filed.
Further in this respect, the appellant requested that the case be remitted to the department of first instance, or that the proceedings before the board be adjourned. The appellant provided however no explanation why it could not have presented its objections to the translation on file at an earlier stage, accompanied by proper evidence, e.g. in the form of a certified translation. The respondent requested that the request for remittal or adjournment be rejected.
Since no evidence to the contrary in the sense of Rule 7 EPC was provided proving a non-conformity of the translation on file, and since the request for remittal or adjournment was filed very late, i.e. during the oral proceedings before the board, the request for remittal or adjournment is rejected.

23 Dec 2015

T 1738/11 - New arguments in appeal

T 1738/11
For the decision, click here. [C]

Key points
  • The opponent appealed and the statement of grounds was based on newly filed documents.
  • The appeal is admissible, because "It is established case law that an appeal raising a case different from that on what the decision under appeal was based ("fresh case") but on the same opposition ground, is in principle admissible"
  • The novelty attack based on the new documents was a fresh ground of opposition and was not admitted.
  • The new documents were not admitted, as were the new arguments submitted before the oral proceedings.
  • " The appeal relies entirely on new evidence and late submissions, none of which have been admitted into the proceedings. The Board can but conclude that the appeal is without merit and must fail."

Summary of Facts and Submissions
I. The appeal lies from the decision of the opposition division, dated 13 April 2011 and posted on 23 May 2011, to maintain the European patent No. 1 703 789 in amended form pursuant to Article 101(3)(a) EPC. The appellant (opponent) filed a notice of appeal on 26 July 2011, paying the appeal fee on the same day. The statement of grounds of appeal was submitted on 3 October 2011.

Reasons for the Decision
1. Admissibility of the appeal
1.1 The respondent argues that the statement of grounds of appeal almost completely failed to identify reasons why the appellant opponent considered the decision under appeal to be wrong. Rather, the appellant opponent's arguments brought forward related to completely new and irrelevant documents D21, D22, and D23. Presenting new facts and evidence in the grounds of appeal constituted a new opposition and, therefore, the appeal was inadmissible.

22 Dec 2015

T 0399/13 - Inadmissible appeal

T 0399/13  [C]

Key points

  • In the statement of grounds of appeal, you have to contest that the first instance decision was wrong.
  • If the patentee considers an auxiliary request allowable, but the request was not admitted by the OD, the decision to not admit must be challenged. Defending patentability of the claimed subject-matter is beside the point.
  • "Firstly, it is to be noted that in the statement of grounds of appeal, the appellant did not contest the admissibility of the second auxiliary request in the proceedings. It follows that the board has not been called upon to assess whether the opposition division made appropriate use of its discretion in this respect. Because of the principle of free party disposition, the scope of the appeal proceedings is defined by the appellant. The board therefore may not call into question a part of the impugned decision where the appellant does not do so and consequently provides no argument in this respect. At the oral proceedings, the appellant gave no reason why it had not included this issue in its statement of grounds of appeal."



Summary of Facts and Submissions
I. The present appeal lies from the decision of the opposition division dated 2 January 2013 to revoke European patent No. 1 613 417.
III. With its grounds of appeal dated 13 May 2013, the patent proprietor ("the appellant") filed a new main request and three new auxiliary requests.


IV. By letter of 27 September 2013, the opponent ("the respondent") objected that none of the requests filed with the grounds of appeal underlay the contested decision. Further, it argued that the claimed invention was insufficiently disclosed and that the claimed subject-matter infringed the requirements of Articles 123(2), 54(1)(2) and 56 EPC.
V. With letter dated 7 August 2015, the respondent further requested that the requests filed with the grounds of appeal should not be into the appeal proceedings. This request was based on Article 12(4) RPBA.
VI. By a letter dated 7 August 2015, the appellant filed observations, in particular regarding the admissibility of the new requests.
VII. In a communication dated 17 August 2015, the board drew the appellant's attention to the fact that it had not indicated in the statement of grounds of appeal any reasons why it did not agree with the decision but had limited itself to providing reasons why the newly filed set of claims fulfilled the requirements of the EPC. Hence, the appeal could be regarded as inadmissible because the clear link which was needed between the decision and the newly filed set of claims was missing.

21 Dec 2015

T 1410/14 - Prior use visible for a second

T 1410/14
Link [B]

EPO Headnote
  1. Merkmale eines nur für einen kurzen Zeitraum sichtbaren Gegenstands sind nur dann der Öffentlichkeit zugänglich geworden, wenn zweifelsfrei nachgewiesen ist, dass für den Fachmann in diesem kurzen Zeitraum die Merkmale eindeutig und unmittelbar zu erkennen waren (Gründe, 2.1-2.5).

Key points
  • The case concerns public prior use, because a tram comprising the the claimed invention had been tested in the city of Lodz. The feature at issue (a specific type of joint between the tramcars / coach bodies) could only have been seen from a pedestrian bridge that crosses the rails. The tram had passed the bridge 13 times. The patentee argues that the tram had moved with such speed that no one could have plausibly have seen how the joints between tram cars worked (in particular, that the joints have a pivot bearing having a bracket which is held on the coach body displaceably in the transverse direction). 
  • In view of the headnote above, the Board considers the public prior use to be not novelty destroying, because it had not been proven without doubt that the claimed features were directly and unambiguously recognizable for the skilled person in such short time period.

Sachverhalt und Anträge
V. Anspruch 1 wie erteilt lautet wie folgt (Einfügung der Nummerierung der Merkmale in eckigen Klammern durch die Kammer):
Großräumiges Fahrzeug zur Personenbeförderung, insbesondere Schienenfahrzeug, das durch Gelenkverbindungen gekoppelte Wagenkästen (1,2) aufweist [Ml.1], [...]
dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die Schwenklagerung eine Konsole (3) aufweist, die am Wagenkasten (1) in Fahrzeugquerrichtung (Q) verschiebbar gehalten ist [M1.5].


Entscheidungsgründe
[...]
2. Die behauptete offenkundigen Vorbenutzung, deren Gegenstand insbesondere in den Dokumenten D4 und D15 dargestellt ist (D4 und D15 sind Bilder eines Koppelgelenks), ist kein Stand der Technik gemäß Artikel 54(2) EPÜ.
Von den Parteien wurde nicht bestritten, dass am 26. April 2004 ein Fahrzeug (1209, "City Runner") mit den Merkmalen des strittigen Anspruchs 1 im öffentlichen Verkehrsraum der Stadt Lodz (PL) gefahren ist. Weiterhin ist unstrittig, dass das streit­gegen­ständliche Koppelgelenk lediglich von oben, nämlich z.B. von der Fußgängerbrücke, die wie in D13 und D14 dargestellt über die Fahrtrasse führt, einsehbar gewesen ist.
Die Kammer sieht es nicht als bewiesen an, dass ein Fachmann die Möglichkeit hatte, während dieser Vorbenutzungs­handlung alle Merkmale der Erfindung zu erkennen. Insbesondere hat die Beschwerdeführerin nicht ausreichend dargetan, dass für den Fachmann das Merkmal 1.5, wonach eine zur Schwenklagerung gehörende Konsole am Wagenkasten verschiebbar gehalten werde, bei den Testfahrten in Lodz erkennbar gewesen war.
Die Gründe dafür sind wie folgt:
2.1 Zunächst ist festzustellen, dass das Merkmal 1.5, wonach eine zur Schwenklagerung gehörende Konsole am Wagenkasten verschiebbar gehalten werde, auch für einen Fachmann nur dann erkennbar ist, wenn sich die Konsole in der Gummilagerung erkennbar bewegt. Dieser Punkt ist ebenfalls unstrittig.
Aus Sicht der Kammer sind daher im Wesentlichen zwei Aspekte zu prüfen:
- Hat an der Stelle der Gleistrasse, an der eine Person das Gelenk von oben hätte einsehen können, eine Wankbewegung stattgefunden, die eine signifikante Bewegung der Konsole ausgelöst hat?
- Hat eine beobachtende Person überhaupt lange genug Zeit gehabt, das Gelenk zu beobachten, um diese Bewegung der Konsole in Fahrzeugquerrichtung dann zu erkennen?
2.2 Die Beschwerdeführerin hat vorgetragen, dass Wankbewegungen der Wagenkästen zu Bewegungen in der Schwenk­lagerung der Konsole im Bereich von bis zu insgesamt 4 bis 5 Zentimeter (+/- 2 bis 2,5 cm) führten. Die Kammer folgt ihr darin, dass eine derartige Verschiebung so groß ist, dass sie von einer Person, ggf. mit Hilfe von Foto- oder Videoaufnahmen fraglos aus einer Entfernung von 5 Metern erkannt werden kann.
2.3 Die Kammer hält es aber für nicht ausreichend dargelegt, dass der Fachmann ausreichend Zeit gehabt hat, die Verschiebebewegung des Gelenkes zu erfassen, die nötig ist, um das Merkmal 1.5 in seiner Bedeutung zu erkennen. So ist vor allem offengeblieben, wie lange eine auf der Fußgängerbrücke stehende Person die Gelegenheit gehabt hätte, die Verschiebung der gelagerten Konsole zu beobachten.

T 1184/12 - Accelerated appeal

T 1184/12
For the decision, click here.


Key points

  • Accelerated proceedings in appeal can be requested by the parties, but also by the courts of Contracting States. In this case, a Finnish court had requested acceleration of the proceedings.
  • Also interesting discussion about novelty and inventive step of a second medical use. 



Reasons for the Decision

3. Request for accelerated processing
The Finnish Market Court had asked for accelerated processing of the present appeal, in view of revocation and infringement actions concerning the patent in Finland. In accordance with the Notice from the Vice-President Directorate-General 3 concerning accelerated processing before the boards of appeal (OJ EPO 2008, 220), the case was accelerated and oral proceedings before the board were scheduled as soon as possible.
[...]
5.2.5 Moreover, although document D1 teaches that the combination formoterol/budesonide provides a "rescue medicine", i.e. teaches that the combination can also be used for symptomatic relief, it does not specifically disclose a therapeutic regime consisting of both regular therapy together with symptomatic relief for a composition simultaneously containing formoterol and budenoside. The board thus comes to the conclusion that the treatment regime as claimed in claim 1 of the main request is not directly and unambiguously disclosed in D1, and this is, according to established case law, enough to render a second medical use claim notionally novel over the prior art (G 2/08, OJ EPO 2010, 456).

18 Dec 2015

T 1952/10 - Non-searched feature in aux. req.

T 1952/10
For the decision, click here. [C]

Key points

  • In auxiliary requests 2 and 3, which were filed after oral proceedings were arranged, independent claim 1 has been amended by introducing a feature from the description.
  • Board: "This feature was not present in the claims as originally filed [...] and there is nothing to suggest that the European search would have covered this feature. Consequently, the Board could not consider this amendment in substance for novelty and inventive step without postponing/adjourning the oral proceedings to allow for a further search to be carried out. According to Article 13(3) RPBA an amendment to a party's case shall not be admitted if that is the case. Hence, the Board decided not to admit the amendments according to auxiliary requests 2 and 3."

Reasons for the Decision
1. Alleged procedural violation (right to be heard)
1.1 In the first instance proceedings, the examining division set out in the annex to the summons to oral proceedings (communication dated 19 January 2010), that in claim 1 filed with the letter dated 21 May 2009, the feature according to which the light source was attached to the box via an inductive connection added fresh subject-matter (see point 2) and that all of the other features of claim 1 were known from each of the documents D1, D2 and D3 (see point 3).
1.2 One month before the date scheduled for oral proceedings (see letter dated 15 March 2010) the applicants filed amended claims, with claim 1 comprising the sole characterising feature that "the electricity is obtainable via an inductive connection".
1.3 In a communication dated 31 March 2010, which according to the appellants was received on 1 April 2010, i.e. more than 2 weeks before the oral proceedings, the examining division set out the grounds which would later come to be used in the contested decision. The only points that the examining division raised for the first time in that communication concerned the feature that "the electricity is obtainable via an inductive connection". In particular, the examining division set out that this feature:
- was disclosed in document D2 by the passage of column 4, lines 2 to 5, according to which electricity may be provided by "electrical transformers", in other words via inductive connection; and
- "does not involve an inventive step since the skilled person will realise that whenever wired connections are referred to they may where appropriate, be replaced by wire free connections such as induction connection".
1.4 These two points were raised in response to amendments filed by the applicants only one month before the proceedings and were based entirely on documents that were already on the file. The Board considers that they are of such limited complexity that it should have presented no difficulty to react to them in the two weeks remaining before the scheduled oral proceedings, or indeed at the oral proceedings. The Board concludes that the opportunity to address the objections was sufficient and that in basing the refusal on these objections the examining division did not commit a procedural violation. Hence, the appellants' arguments on this point cannot provide a reason for remitting the case to the department of first instance for further prosecution.
[...]
4. Auxiliary Requests 2 and 3
4.1 According to Article 13(3) of the Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal (RPBA), "Amendments [to a party's case] sought to be made after oral proceedings have been arranged shall not be admitted if they raise issues which the Board or the other party or parties cannot reasonably be expected to deal with without adjournment of the oral proceedings".
4.2 In auxiliary requests 2 and 3, which were filed after oral proceedings were arranged, independent claim 1 has been amended by introducing the feature that "the light source (20) automatically disconnects from the electricity connection on separation of the lid (14') from the electrical junction box (12')".
4.3 This feature was not present in the claims as originally filed (see EP 1 909 367 A2) and there is nothing to suggest that the European search would have covered this feature. Consequently, the Board could not consider this amendment in substance for novelty and inventive step without postponing/adjourning the oral proceedings to allow for a further search to be carried out. According to Article 13(3) RPBA an amendment to a party's case shall not be admitted if that is the case. Hence, the Board decided not to admit the amendments according to auxiliary requests 2 and 3.
5. Conclusion
In the absence of any allowable request the Board had to dismiss the appeal.

T 1459/11 - Written submissions

T 1459/11
For the decision, click here. [C] (online  19.10.2015) 

Headnote
The purpose of the communication of a board of appeal pursuant to Art. 15(1) RPBA is to prepare the oral proceedings; it is not an invitation to the parties to make further submissions or to file further requests (See Reasons 3.1-3.3)

Reasons for the Decision



3. First auxiliary request

3.1 Admissibility

According to the appellant this request should be admitted to the proceedings because it had been filed "in response" to the communication pursuant to Art. 15 RPBA issued by the Board in preparation of the oral proceedings.

3.2 According to Art. 15(1) RPBA the purpose of the communication is to draw attention to matters "which seem to be of special significance....or containing other observations that may help concentration on essentials during the oral proceedings" (emphasis of the Board).

The purpose of the communication is thus - explicitly -to establish the framework of the oral proceedings. The communication does not - explicitly or implicitly - represent an invitation or opportunity to file further written submissions or to shift the focus of the case to be heard at oral proceedings, it being recalled that the terms of the appeal are determined by the statement of grounds of the appeal and the reply thereto (Art. 12(2) RPBA).

3.3 Consequently there is no legal basis in either the EPC or the RPBA for the filing of a "response" to a communication pursuant to Art. 15 RPBA. This means that a Board is under no obligation to take such a "response" into account. Furthermore in view of the purpose of the communication pursuant to Art. 15 RPBA the argument that a "response" to the communication cannot be regarded as late filed, is moot. Any submissions - either arguments or requests - contained in such a "response" that go beyond those contained in the statement of grounds of appeal or the reply thereto may constitute an amendment to the case presented, and it is a matter for the discretion of the Board whether such submissions are to be taken into account (Art. 13(1) RPBA).

17 Dec 2015

T 0526/12 - Prior art and proof

T 0526/12
For the decision, click here. [C] (online 19.10.2015)



Key points
  • The issue in this case is the availability to the public of D1 at its alleged publication date in 1997 D1 is:
    "FIORE CAROLYN: "DragonDictate 2.0 voice recognition software", INTERNET CITATION, [Online] 1997, Retrieved from the Internet: URL:http://www.htctu.fhda.edu/trainings/manuals/contributions/carolyn/Drago.pdf [retrieved on 2007-08-02]" 
  • The applicant asserted that D1 was an unfinished draft (that was later published on the internet) and that the date was a revision date, not a publication date. 
  • The Board: "Furthermore, [the Examining Division] was not correct to place the burden of proof on the appellant. In particular, if the applicant states its disagreement with the establishment of a document as prior art and provides detailed arguments challenging prima facie evidence concerning the nominal publication date of a document, the burden of proof shifts to the examining division to establish that the document was made available to the public within the meaning of Article 54(2) EPC 1973 on that date (see T929/94 of 7 July 1998 with reference to T 750/94, OJ EPO 1998, 32)." 
  • The decision of the Examining Division was found to be insufficiently reasoned regarding the status of D1, constituting a substantial procedural violation. 
  • Regarding the standard of proof, the Board stated that: "when an issue of fact is being examined and decided by the EPO on the balance of probabilities, the more serious the issue, the more convincing the evidence must be to support it. If the decision on an issue under examination may result in the refusal or revocation of a European patent, for example in a case concerning alleged prior publication or prior use, the available evidence must be examined very critically and strictly, for example in order to ascertain whether or not something happened (the alleged prior publication or prior use) before the relevant filing or priority date. In any such case, a finding that a publication or use forms part of the state of the art for the purpose of Article 54(2) EPC 1973 should only be made if the available evidence, when subjected to a strict and careful evaluation, establishes that a prior publication or use is likely to have occurred. A European patent should not be refused or revoked unless the grounds for refusal or revocation are fully and properly proven: that is it must be proven "up to the hilt" - see decision T 472/92, OJ EPO 1988, 161." 
  • Therefore, the Board concludes that the Examining Division had not sufficiently substantiated that D1 constituted prior art within the meaning of Article 54(2) EPC 1973.

16 Dec 2015

T 1022/14 - Re-establishment refused

T 1022/14
For the decision, click here


Key points

  • The appeal is against the refusal of re-establishment of rights, which was requested because no further processing was requested after not filing a response to a Article 94(3) Communication. The appeal is dismissed.
  • According to the Examining Division, " The European representative had admitted that he had not read through the correspondence with the applicant and had failed to observe the applicant's request to file a request for further processing, and thus had not verified that there was indeed no instruction to abandon the case. The failure to request further processing had been caused by his failure to check thoroughly the letters from the Japanese representative. "
  • In the letter dated 3 June 2010 the instruction by the appellant's Japanese representative reads as follows:
  • "... Please be informed that we will not respond to the recent examination report and request Further Processing for further prosecution of the present application. We also request to file a divisional application to pursue claims to iron salen compounds. ...".
  • The Board: " In view of this wording the board is unable to follow the European representative's submission that the instruction to file further prosecution for the parent application was ambiguous or that he needed to apply exceptional diligence to understand what was said. Also, the instruction to file further processing of the parent application was not "somewhat hidden". Both letters explicitly stated that no response to the examination report was to be made other than to request further processing. From this it is undoubtedly clear that the application was not to be abandoned but to be further pursued later on and - as a second point - a divisional application was to be filed in due time. This kind of strategy is not particularly unusual and, even if, it was clearly and understandably set out in the letters of 3 and 4 June 2010. So no room for interpretation was available.
  • The attorney involved worked with one of the larger UK firms.

14 Dec 2015

T 0740/15 - Termination opposition proceedings

T 0740/15 - [C]
For the decision, click here. 16.11.2015

Key points
  • After lapse of a patent, opposition proceedings can only be terminated under Rule 84(1) EPC if the opponent requests so.
  • Int this case, " the opponent requested that the opposition proceedings be continued and also maintained his previous request that oral proceedings in accordance with Article 116 EPC be held in the event that the opposition division was inclined to maintain the patent as granted or in amended form. "
  • The proceedings were discontinued without oral proceedings.
  • Lack of oral proceedings amounts to a substantial procedural violation according to the Board.
  • As a note, the OD may have thought that it did not maintain the patent as granted or in amended form, such that the request for oral proceedings did not apply. The Board does not discuss this aspect.
  • Lack of reasoning of the decision was also considered a substantial procedural violation.
  • The Board also considers that the opposition proceedings should not have been discontinued. As a note, I understand that the opponent referred in its request for continuation to the possibility that the patentee would still pay the national renewal fees (late) or restore the patent, while the decision to discontinue seems to have been taken after the expiry of that period. Of course, the opponent could still have an interest in the opposition because of the retroactive effect of revocation, but the request for continuation did not seem to suggest that this was the case.

11 Dec 2015

T 2415/13 - Late requests before OD

T 2415/13
For the decision, click here. 13.11.2015

Key points

  • Board: "In the present case, the opposition division admitted the first auxiliary request since the amendment made in this request was "neither unforeseeable nor difficult to grasp" . This implies that according to the opposition division, the opponent could be expected to deal with the amendment during the oral proceedings. This is an appropriate criterion to apply when deciding on the admissibility of late-filed requests and the board has no reason to assume - and none has been brought forward by the appellants - that the opposition division applied it in an unreasonable way." 
  • Also discussion of Art 123(2) EPC:
    " This finding cannot be altered by the fact that, as argued by the respondents, two instances of the EPO, namely the examining division and the opposition division, had already found that claim 1 did not contain added matter. If this were to stop the board from overturning the opposition division's decision on Article 100(c) EPC, there would be no point in an opponent appealing on the ground of Article 100(c) EPC." 


Reasons for the Decision
Main request
1. Admissibility

G 2301/15 - Removal from office

G 2301/15
For the decision, click here.   [B] (EPO has deleted the file)

Google cache (Google has also removed it).


Headnote

1. The law-making bodies have so shaped the proceedings for a decision for a proposal under Article 23(1) EPC that they take proper judicial form. The arrangements laid down in Articles 2(5) RPEBA and Article 10 BDS/EBA for the composition of the Enlarged Board of Appeal in proceedings under Article 23(1) EPC are compatible with the European Patent Convention and general principles of law.
2. Article 12a(5) RPEBA requires that the request under Article 12a(1) RPEBA specify individual incidents and the evidence for them, and give reasons why they constitute a serious ground within the meaning of Article 23(1) EPC.



Summary of Facts and Submissions
I. These proceedings concern the request of 25 June 2015 (hereinafter: AC request) from the chairman of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation (hereinafter: the petitioner) for a proposal that the respondent be removed from office as a member of the boards of appeal under Article 23(1), first sentence, EPC and the rules of procedure of the Enlarged Board of Appeal (RPEBA) as approved by the Council on 25 March 2015 (CA/D 3/15).

10 Dec 2015

T 0336/14 - Inventive GUI

T 0336/14 - [C]
For the decision, click here. 10.11.2015



Headnote

In the assessment of inventive step of a claim which comprises technical and non-technical features ("mixed invention") and in which the non-technical features relate to cognitive content presented to the user of a graphical user interface (GUI), i.e. relate to "what" is presented rather than "how" something is presented, it has to be analysed whether the GUI together with the content presented credibly assists the user in performing a technical task (related to "why" that content is presented) by means of a continued and/or guided human-machine interaction process (see point 1.2).

Key points
  • " To this end, [...] it is relevant to determine whether the cognitive information presented constitutes an operation state, a condition or an event internal to the underlying technical system, prompting the system user to interact with it in a continued and/or guided way for enabling its proper functioning, within the meaning of [...], or, whether it represents a state of a non-technical application run on that technical system [...] . In other words, it has to be established whether the information presented constitutes "technical information", which credibly enables the user to properly operate the underlying technical system and thus has a technical effect, or rather "non-technical information", which is exclusively aimed at the mental activities of the system user as the final addressee."  (internal quotations omitted)

Reasons for the Decision
1. MAIN REQUEST
Claim 1 of this request is identical to claim 1 of the main request as maintained by the opposition division, and comprises the following features (as enumerated by the appellant and the respondent):
1.0) A user interface for an extracorporeal blood treatment machine, [...]
1.12) the plurality of data comprising operating instructions for readying the machine for use;
1.13) the at least two images being pictographs which represent configurations of the machine correlated to the operating instructions.
[...]
1.2 Article 56 EPC: inventive step
The next issue to be resolved is whether distinguishing features 1.12) and 1.13) may render the subject-matter of claim 1 inventive over the corresponding embodiment of D2. The appellant and the respondent quoted a large number of decisions (cf. points III, IV and VIII above) regarding the assessment of inventive step, in particular the matter of presentations of information as such with respect to graphical user interfaces. The board finds it expedient to first look at the factual and legal particularities of those decisions.
[...]
1.2.2 At the outset of its inventive-step analysis, this board would first like to recall that features relating to subject-matter excluded under Article 52(2) EPC, such as "presentations of information", may only contribute to an inventive step if they bring about an overall technical effect, i.e. if they contribute to the technical character of the claim by interacting with its technical features to solve a technical problem. Otherwise, they are to be disregarded in the assessment of inventiveness (see e.g. T 641/00, first headnote and reasons 6; T 154/04, reasons 5(F); T 1143/06 of 1 April 2009, reasons 3.4). This is, in principle, also applied in prominent national decisions of the German Federal Court of Justice (BGH) concerned with the matter of "presentations of information" (see e.g. BGH, X ZR 3/12, GRUR 2013, 275 - Routenplanung, reasons III.2; BGH, X ZR 27/12, GRUR 2013, 909 - Fahrzeugnavigationssystem, reasons III.2) and the Court of Appeal of England and Wales dealing with "programs for computers" (see Court of Appeal decision of 8 October 2008 - Symbian Ltd v. Comptroller General of Patents [2008] EWCA Civ 1066, point 15).

9 Dec 2015

T 1702/12 - Broader dependent claim

T 1702/12
For the decision, click here

Catchword
Auxiliary requests 2 and 3: extension of protection conferred (yes) - scope of granted dependent claim cannot be greater than that of independent claim 1 on which it depends


Key points

  • Claim 1 recited a range of 100 to 500 poise, dependent claim 6 range of up to 2000 poise. Amending claim 1 in opposition to recite a range of 100 to 2000 poise contravenes Art. 123(3) EPC because a dependent claim can not have a scope greater than that of the independent claim.
  • Change of the upper limit of claim 1 from 500 to 5000 under Rule 139 as correction of an error was neither allowed. 
Reasons for the Decision


Auxiliary requests 2 and 3
4. Claim 1 of each of auxiliary requests 2 and 3 differs from claim 1 as granted in that the viscosity of the oil phase is specified as 100 to 2000 poise, and 200 to 2000 poise, respectively, rather than 100 to 500 poise.
4.1 The Appellant submitted that said claim did not extend the scope of protection conferred by the claims as granted, since claim 6 as granted disclosed an upper limit of 2000 poise of the oil phase viscosity range, such that the scope of claim 1 of auxiliary requests 2 and 3 was not broader than that of the granted claims as a whole.
4.2 However, claim 6 as granted is dependent on inter alia claim 1, since it is worded as "A composition according to any of the preceding claims..." (see point I above), claims 2 to 5 also all being dependent on inter alia claim 1. Hence, claim 6 must be construed to incorporate all the limitations of claim 1, including the upper limit of the oil phase viscosity range of 500 poise. Thus, the scope of protection afforded by granted dependent claim 6 cannot be greater than that provided by granted claim 1.
4.3 Since the upper limit of both the oil phase viscosity ranges in claim 1 of each of these requests is higher than that in granted claim 1, namely 2000 instead of 500 poise, the scope of protection conferred by claim 1 of each of auxiliary requests 2 and 3 has been broadened vis-à-vis that of the claims as granted, such that the the requirements of Article 123(3) EPC are not satisfied.

8 Dec 2015

T 2068/14 - Video conference oral proceedings

EPO T 2068/14

For the decision, click here. [B] - 10.11.2015

Headnote
Although the board is prepared, in principle, to consider in exceptional circumstances the holding of ex parte oral proceedings by video conference, for the reasons set out in point 1.2.5 the conditions are not met in the present case.
Moreover a party's right to be heard under Article 113(1) EPC does not imply a separate right of the party's representative to be heard and therefore does not imply a right to have oral proceedings before the EPO held by video conference (see point 1.3.18).

Key points

  • The first sentence of the headnote seems to indicate that oral proceedings by video conference are not impossible already because of practical reasons.
  • The second reason seems to assume a right to have oral proceedings before the EPO held by video conference could exist. 
  • The Board indicates that in exceptional cases, an applicant may be able to convince the Board that "  that conventional oral proceedings are not appropriate to properly present the appellant's case and that the board should exercise its discretion to, exceptionally, explore the possibility of holding oral proceedings by video conference." 
  • Of course, in case a Board "should exercise its discretion" , this is no longer a true discretion. Hence, this seems to imply a right to oral proceeding by video conference in exceptional cases.




7 Dec 2015

T 0085/14 - Witness in appeal

EPO T 0085/14
For the decision, click here.  Last updated: 09.11.2015
Key points

  • The opponent requested the hearing of three persons as witness to give evidence about public availability of documents with the statement of grounds in appeal. The case is remitted, with the instruction (in the reasons, not in the order) to hear the offered witnesses.




Reasons for the Decision
[...]
4. In the impugned decision, the Opposition Division held that it was unproven that D1 and D2 belonged to the state of the art.
In particular, it considered that Mr Ferrante's affidavit did not provide clear and unambiguous evidence that this was the case, and decided not to summon him to give oral evidence.
5. In the statement of grounds, in compliance with Rule 117 EPC, the appellant formally requested to hear Mr Ferrante, Mr Krech and Mr Russell as witnesses about the availability to the public of documents D1 and D2 and the products to which they relate.
The Board considers at least the request to hear Mr Krech and Mr Russell as a justified reaction to the Opposition Division's finding in the impugned decision, which could not have been reasonably presented at first instance. In view of Article 12(2) and (4) RPBA, this request is therefore admissible.
As explained above, establishing whether D1 and D2 and the product to which they relate belong to the state of the art for the claimed invention can be crucial for an assessment of novelty and inventive step, which was not carried out by the Opposition Division.
Moreover, for that purpose, the appellant's written submissions in the form of affidavits alone cannot be as detailed as an oral testimony, especially as far as the features of the product are concerned.
Therefore, the Board concludes that it is necessary to hear those witnesses for compliance with Article 113(1) EPC.
In order to further clarify any possible outstanding points, and considering that a summons to give evidence will have to be issued anyway, the Board also admits the request to hear Mr Ferrante, even though it was not admitted at first instance (Article 12(4) RPBA). Under these circumstances it is not necessary for the Board to decide on the appellant's request to enter Mr Ferrante's affidavit into the proceedings in full.
Hence, Mr Krech, Mr Russell and Mr Ferrante should be summoned to give oral evidence before the Opposition Division, so that it can be established whether D1 and D2 and the product to which they relate belong to the state of the art.
6. Depending on the outcome of the oral testimony, a new assessment of novelty and inventive step of the claimed invention, not yet performed at first instance, might have to be carried out.
Under Article 111(1) EPC it is left to the Board's discretion to either exercise any power within the competence of the department which was responsible for the decision appealed or remit the case to that department for further prosecution.
Under the present circumstances the Boards finds it appropriate to remit the case in order for the parties to have the outstanding matters examined by two degrees of jurisdiction.
Order
For these reasons it is decided that:
1. The decision under appeal is set aside.
2. The case is remitted to the department of first instance for further prosecution.

4 Dec 2015

T 0451/11 - Binding starting point

EPO T 0451/11

For the decision, click here.

Key points
  • For inventive step, the choice of the starting point has a binding effect:
    "Nach ständiger Rechtsprechung, siehe dazu RdBK, I.D.3.4.3 und die darin zitierten Entscheidungen, ist der Fachmann zwar in der Wahl eines Ausgangpunktes völlig frei, später ist er aber an diese Wahl gebunden. Durch eine bewusste, d. h. in Kenntnis der Vor- und Nachteile der unterschiedlichen Gattungen getroffene Auswahl legt er nicht nur den als Ausgangspunkt dienenden Gegenstand fest, sondern gibt auch den Rahmen der Weiterentwicklung vor, nämlich eine Weiterentwicklung innerhalb dieser Gattung. Eine Änderung der bewusst gewählten Gattung zu einer anderen, bereits vorher bekannten, aber nicht gewählten ist während der Weiterentwicklung unwahrscheinlich und im Normalfall nicht naheliegend." 
  • The Board indicates that also for Article 123 EPC, the claims should be interpreted in a way which makes sense, regarding the technology, and taking into account the complete disclosure of the patent.
    " Bei den Einwänden unter Artikel 83, 84 und 123 EPÜ kommt der Auslegung des Anspruchswortlauts zentrale Bedeutung zu. Die Auslegung erfolgt nach den aus der Rechtsprechung bekannten Grundsätzen. So legt der Fachmann, der bemüht ist, die beanspruchte Erfindung und ihren Beitrag technisch zu verstehen, einen Anspruch auf eine technisch sinnvolle Weise und unter Berücksichtigung der gesamten Offenbarung des Patentes aus" 
Entscheidungsgründe
1. Die Beschwerde ist zulässig.
2. Hintergrund
Das Patent betrifft eine Heuwerbungsmaschine, insbesondere zum Schwaden von Halmgut, mit umlaufend angetriebenen Kreiselrechen, die in Arbeitsstellung V-förmig in Fahrtrichtung ausgerichtet, und daraus über Ausleger in eine Transportstellung verschwenkbar sind. Um die Kreiselrechen von der Fahrerkabine aus leichter visuell zu kontrollieren, siehe Absatz [0003] der Patentschrift, sieht die Erfindung nach dem Anspruch 1 wie aufrechterhalten vor, dass der zentrale Zugbalken 8, der die Ausleger 10,11 mit Kreiselrechen trägt (Fig.1) längenveränderlich ist und zwar dermaßen, dass in der Arbeitsstellung die beiden vorderen Kreiselrechen an den V-Enden "in etwa bis in einen Bereich seitlich neben der Fahrerkabine" bewegbar sind.
3. Artikel 83,84,123 EPÜ
3.1 Diese Einwände betreffen alle dem gegenüber der erteilten Fassung in Anspruch 1 aufgenommen Wortlaut "in etwa bis in einen Bereich seitlich neben der Fahrerkabine". Da sie erst mit der Beschwerdebegründung (Artikel 83, 123) bzw. in der mündlichen Verhandlung vor der Kammer (Artikel 84) erhoben wurden, hat die Beschwerdegegnerin ihre Zulässigkeit unter Artikel 12(2) bzw. 13(3) VOBK in Frage gestellt. Diese Frage kann aber unbeantwortet bleiben, weil keiner dieser Einwände zielführend ist.
3.2 Bei den Einwänden unter Artikel 83, 84 und 123 EPÜ kommt der Auslegung des Anspruchswortlauts zentrale Bedeutung zu. Die Auslegung erfolgt nach den aus der Rechtsprechung bekannten Grundsätzen. So legt der Fachmann, der bemüht ist, die beanspruchte Erfindung und ihren Beitrag technisch zu verstehen, einen Anspruch auf eine technisch sinnvolle Weise und unter Berücksichtigung der gesamten Offenbarung des Patentes aus (siehe dazu die Rechtsprechung der Beschwerdekammern, 7. Auflage, 2013 (RdBK), II.A.6.1). Dazu gibt er den verwendeten Begriffe ihre übliche Bedeutung, es sei denn, die Beschreibung weist ihnen einen anderen, besonderen Sinn zu (RdBK, II.A.6.3.3).

3 Dec 2015

T 1507/10 - Parameters in examination

T 1507/10

For the decision, click here

Key points

  • Some chemical products, like polymers, can generally only be usefully claimed using parameter features (product properties). Most case law about such features is from opposition cases, where clarity of the claims as granted can not be challenged.
  • The present decision is useful because it is an examination appeal.
  • " Zum Argument der Prüfungsabteilung, dass dem Fachmann in der Streitanmeldung eine Methode der Bestimmung des Parameters angegeben hätte werden müssen, ist zu sagen, dass das Merkmal wonach "der Triplett-Emitter mindestens drei Verknüpfungen zu dem Polymer aufweist" kein ungewöhnlicher oder mehrdeutiger Parameter ist, sondern die chemische Struktur des Polymers betrifft, welche sich durch die jeweils angewendete Messmethode nicht ändert. "





Entscheidungsgründe
1. Die Beschwerde ist zulässig.
2. Artikel 84 EPÜ
3. Die Prüfungsabteilung hatte die Streitanmeldung wegen mangelnder Klarheit zurückgewiesen, da die Streitanmeldung keine Methode nenne, mithilfe derer der Fachmann die Menge des Triplett-Emitters mit mindestens drei Verknüpfungen zu dem Polymer bestimmen könne. Daher könne er nicht erkennen, ob in dem untersuchten Polymer möglicherweise ein Triplett-Emitter direkt mit einem Endcapper verbunden ist.
[....]
4.5 Zum Argument der Prüfungsabteilung, dass dem Fachmann in der Streitanmeldung eine Methode der Bestimmung des Parameters angegeben hätte werden müssen, ist zu sagen, dass das Merkmal wonach "der Triplett-Emitter mindestens drei Verknüpfungen zu dem Polymer aufweist" kein ungewöhnlicher oder mehrdeutiger Parameter ist, sondern die chemische Struktur des Polymers betrifft, welche sich durch die jeweils angewendete Messmethode nicht ändert. Die zur Strukturaufklärung in der organischen und metallorganischen Chemie eingesetzten üblichen Methoden, wie Massenspektrometrie oder NMR-Spektrometrie, sind dem Fachmann hinlänglich bekannt und er hätte sie, auch ohne einen expliziten Hinweis zur Untersuchung der Struktur des Polymere herangezogen.
4.6 Die Kammer gelangt daher zu der Auffassung, dass der Gegenstand des Anspruchs 1 der Streitanmeldung die Erfordernisse des Artikels 84 EPÜ erfüllt.


5. Artikel 83 EPÜ
Die Begründung der angefochtenen Entscheidung führt gegen die Ausführbarkeit des Gegenstandes gemäß Anspruch 1 nur an, dass der Fachmann nicht wisse, ob er innerhalb oder außerhalb des beanspruchten Bereiches arbeite (siehe angefochtene Entscheidung insbesondere Punkt 4.13 bis 4.15).
Indessen ist die Frage, ob der Fachmann weiß, ob er innerhalb oder außerhalb des beanspruchten Bereichs arbeitet, selbst im Falle eines unklaren oder mehrdeutigen Parameters keine Frage der ausreichenden Offenbarung, sondern eine Angelegenheit des Artikels 84 EPÜ (siehe T 593/09, Entscheidungsgründe Punkt 4.1.2 bis 4.1.4).
Da im Verfahren die Herstellbarkeit der beanspruchten Polymere nicht angegriffen worden war, sieht die Kammer keine Veranlassung, die Ausführbarkeit des beanspruchten Gegenstandes in Zweifel zu ziehen. Die Kammer ist daher der Auffassung, das die Erfordernisse des Artikels 83 EPÜ erfüllt sind.
6. Da das Verfahren vor den Beschwerdekammern im ex-parte Verfahren primär auf die Überprüfung der angefochtenen Entscheidung abgestellt ist (siehe Entscheidung G 10/93, ABl. EPA 1995, 172, Punkt 4 der Entscheidungsgründe), verweist die Kammer in Ausübung ihrer Befugnisse gemäß Artikel 111 (1) EPÜ die Angelegenheit zur Fortsetzung des Prüfungsverfahrens an die erste Instanz zurück.

2 Dec 2015

T 0893/13 - Interlocutory revision and fee

T 0893/13 - [C]
For the decision, click here.


  • After a first refusal, the applicant filed an appeal and interlocutory revision was granted. Thereafter the application was again refused, the applicant filed an appeal, in addition requesting a refund of the first appeal fee.
  • The Board decides that it is competent to decide on this request for a refund, and that the request was timely filed in the second appeal. 





Summary of Facts and Submissions
I. The appeal lies against the decision of the examining division, with reasons dispatched with letter of 14 No­vember 2012, to refuse the European patent application No. 07 120 091.9.
II. Earlier in the proceedings, on 3 November 2011, the exa­mi­ning division had already decided to refuse the appli­­cation but then, in response to an appeal, had rectified its decision under Article 109(1) EPC and con­tinued examination.
III. The earlier decision was primarily based on a lack of clarity, [...]
IV. Reimburse­ment of the first appeal fee was not re­ques­ted in the first appeal and was not ordered by the exami­ning division of its own motion. After rectifi­ca­­tion, how­ever, the appellant requested that the exami­ning divi­sion order the reimbursement of the first appeal fee.
V. The decision under appeal is based on the finding that the application did not comply with Articles 83 and 84 EPC. The decision also refers to the document D1: [...] and, in a section entitled "Further Remarks", suggests that the claimed invention "appears" to lack an inven­tive step over D1. Moreover, the examining division ex­plains (see page 3, 4th paragraph) that it does not con­sider a substantial proce­du­ral violation to have occurred during examination lea­ding to the first appeal and "is therefore un­able to reimburse the appeal fee under Rule 103(2) EPC".
VI. Notice of appeal was filed on 18 January 2013, the appeal fee being paid on the same day. A statement of grounds of appeal was received on 25 March 2013. The appellant requested that the decision under appeal be set aside and that a patent be granted based on the documents attached to the grounds of appeal, in par­ti­cular claims 1-14. It also requested that the fee for the previous, i.e. first appeal be reim­bursed.
VII. With a summons to oral proceedings, the board informed the appellant of its preliminary opinion that the claimed invention lacked clarity, Article 84 EPC 1973, sufficiency of disclosure, Article 83 EPC 1973, and inven­tive step, Article 56 EPC 1973. The board also referred the appellant to the jurispru­dence of the boards of appeal, according to which the board was not com­pe­tent to deal with the request for reim­burse­ment of the first appeal fee.
VIII. In response to the summons, with letter dated 25 Au­gust 2015, the appellant withdrew its request for oral proceedings. The oral proceedings were then cancelled.

Reasons for the Decision
Reimbursement of the first appeal fee
1. Following a decision of the Administrative Council of 13 December 2013, an amended version of Rule 103 EPC entered into force on 1 April 2014. According to Ar­ticle 2(2) of that decision, the new rule also applies to appeals pending at the date of entry into force, hence also to the present one.
2. The relevant parts of Rule 103 EPC as presently in force read as follows:
"(1) The appeal fee shall be reimbursed in full
(a) in the event of interlocutory revision or where the Board of Appeal deems an appeal to be allowable, if such reimbursement is equitable by reason of a substantial procedural violation, [...]
(3) The department whose decision is impugned shall order the reimbursement if it revises its decision and considers reimbursement equitable by reason of a substantial procedural violation. In all other cases, matters of reimbursement shall be decided by the Board of Appeal."
Competence of the board
3. Firstly, it has to be decided whether the board is com­petent to decide on the appellant's request to have the first appeal fee reimbursed even though the request was filed only after the examining division rectified its decision in response to the first appeal.
3.1 According to Rule 103(2) EPC, the examining division or­ders reimbursement if it concludes that it is equi­table by reason of a substantial procedural violation. Since Rule 103 EPC does not require there to be a re­quest for reimbursement, the examining divi­sion has to assess of its own motion whether reimburse­ment of the appeal fee is equitable under the cir­cum­stances (see also ­­G 3/03, OJ EPO 2005, 34, reasons 3, 2nd sen­tence). The board has no reason to doubt that the exa­mi­ning divi­sion ful­filled this obligation, as it also express­ly declared in the decision under appeal (page 3, 4th paragraph).
3.2 In J 32/95 (OJ EPO 1999, 713) it was decided that the department whose decision has been impugned does not have the power to refuse a requested reimbursement of the appeal fee but that such power lies with the board of appeal (see the headnotes). This decision was con­firmed by G 3/03 (OJ EPO 2005, 34, see headnote 1). New Rule 103 EPC was expressly meant to codify J 32/95 (see OJ EPO Special Edition No. 1, 2003, 184).
3.3 Although under Rule 103 EPC the examining division has the power to order reimbursement of appeal fee, it does not have the power to decide that the appeal fee is not reimbursed (see also G 3/03, reasons 2). Rule 103 EPC expressly provides that "all other matters of reim­burse­ment shall be decided by the Board of Appeal".
3.4 Therefore, according to Rule 103 EPC the board is com­pe­tent to decide on reimbursement of the appeal fee whenever the examining division revises its de­ci­sion and does not order reimbursement itself.
4. In T 21/02 it was decided that "Where a request for reimbursement of the appeal fee [...] was submitted only after the contested decision had been rectified [...], failing a decision of the department of first instance, no legal basis exists for the Board of Appeal to decide on that request" (see headnote). It was reasoned that, if an appeal "had been fully dealt with (by way of inter­locu­tory revision) and was, thus, no longer pending, when the request for re­imbursement was submitted, [...] the request was sub­mitted in the ab­sence of a pending appeal and could not, hence, con­sti­tute an ancillary issue to be dealt with in appeal pro­ceedings" (see reasons 5). It was further argued that, when a request for reimburse­ment was filed only after rectification, the procedural si­tu­ation was the same as if "the Board of Appeal had decided upon it and re­mitted the case to the depart­ment of first in­stance for further prose­cu­tion" (see still reasons 5; see also T 242/05, headnote).
5. The board disagrees with this finding.
5.1 In particular, the board disagrees that non-reimburse­ment of the appeal fee by the examining division in the case of inter­locutory re­vision of its decision must be equa­­ted with the situation in which the board of appeal has refused a corresponding request.
5.2 G 3/03 states (reasons 3, 4th sen­tence) that "In the absence of a request for reim­burse­ment of the appeal fee, the decision of the depart­ment of the first in­stance granting interlocutory re­vi­sion pursuant to Article 109(1) EPC will make no mention of the issue of reimbursement of the appeal fee, and the appellant will not be adversely affected by the decision."
5.3 Apparently, the appellant is not adversely affected by the granting of interlocutory revision itself. Thus the board takes the main point of that statement in G 3/03 to be that an appellant who did not request reimburse­ment of the appeal fee is not adversely affected by the fact that the examining division did not order reim­burse­ment.
5.4 Since the examining division is not competent to decide that the appeal fee is not reimbursed, an in­ter­locutory revision without an order for reim­burse­­ment cannot be construed as a decision not to re­im­burse.
5.5 Rather, the board con­si­ders that the request for re­imbursement of the appeal fee can be validly filed even after the examining divi­sion has granted interlocutory revision, since Rule 103 EPC entrusts the board with the decision on "all other matters of reimbursement" based on only the two conditions mentioned: That the decision was rectified and the appeal fee was not reimbursed by the exa­mining divi­sion.
6. Therefore, the board considers itself competent to deal with the appellant's request for reimbursement of the first appeal fee.
Termination of financial obligations
7. According to Article 13(2) RFees, rights against the Organisation for the refunding by the European Patent Office of fees are extinguished after four years from the end of the calendar year in which the right arose. The appellant's potential right to have its appeal fee reimbursed arose from the decision of the examining division to grant interlocutory revision. This decision bears the date 26 March 2012, so the Office's potential obligation to reimburse the fee is not extinguished until the end of 2016.
[...]
13. In summary, the board concludes that no substantial pro­cedural error occurred in the examining proceedings leading to the first appeal or the examining division's decision to rectify and that, therefore, the request for reimbursement of the first appeal fee must be rejec­ted.
[...]
17. In summary, the board comes the conclusion that claim 1 lacks clarity, Article 84 EPC 1973.
Order
For these reasons it is decided that:
1. The appeal is dismissed.
2. The request for reimbursement of the first appeal fee is refused.