7 Aug 2020

Summertime reading: The mind of an EPO Examiner, by one



Abstract
This article provides an insight into the thinking of EPO examiners during the search process and how examiners balance high quality with service and efficiency.

[...]
In this respect, the examiners' job is very comparable to that of many knowledge workers in service organisations. Broken down to the level of an individual search, an experienced examiner working in a technologically complex field can be expected to complete a full search in about 1,5 days.


[...]
This immediately prompts the examiner to consider the question: “Which specific combination(s) of keywords and/or classes offers the best chances to find the most pertinent prior art quickly and perform a complete search?”

The answer to this question might depend on several considerations:•

  • Would I rather expect to find relevant scientific publications (a clear hint towards emphasising non-patent databases) or mainly patent applications?•

  • Is the technological activity in this field concentrated geographically (for instance, Asia)?•

  • Who are the main players in this field? Are there just a limited number of very active applicants or, on the contrary, is the market dispersed?•

  • What is the drafting and filing strategy of my applicant?•

  • Given the nature of the subject matter, what are the most relevant databases and search tools? Is it more appropriate to perform a full text based search or rather figure based? Etc …



Taking all of these considerations into account might inspire the examiner to adopt a highly targeted and focussed search strategy (e.g. an initial query limited to a limited number of documents of country codes, applicants, classes and/or keywords) in an attempt to find the “magical bullet” (e.g. novelty destroying documents for the independent claims) quickly. This scenario might apply for an application in a high tech, innovative field with one or two key players, the invention being well-drafted using field-specific jargon and concepts, and one or two relevant technical classes to be allocated.

6 Aug 2020

T 0247/17 - Res judicata, evidence CGK, and documents on appeal

Key points

  • The patentee appellant files documents with the Statement of grounds. The Board admits these documents.
  • “The opposition division thus had indicated that they intended to side with the patent proprietor on that point in the summons to oral proceedings. Consequently there was at this stage no necessity for the patent proprietor to provide further evidence regarding that question. The reversal of the opinion of the opposition division in the contested decision could not have been reasonably expected by the patent proprietor prior to the oral proceedings. This justifies, in the opinion of the Board, the filing of further evidence in that regard at the beginning of the appeal proceedings.”
    • So, in the first instance proceedings, the patentee can wait for the negative opinion of the OD with filing documents. This is of course different in appeal (and the justification for the different treatment is not clear to me).
  • As to evidence of CGK :“it is not because [the publication date of D14 and D16-D19] falls after the priority date of the patent in suit that these documents necessarily cannot be used to establish the content of the common general knowledge at the priority date of the patent in suit. It is thus not a factor of relevance in the admittance of these documents in the present case.”
    • D18 is a review article published 10 years after the filing date. I don't readily see how it can be used as evidence of CGK at the filing date/priority date.
  • On the issue of res judicata: “In decision T 731/11 of 29 June 2012 pertaining to an appeal lodged in the examination phase of the application underlying the present case, the Board in a different composition concluded that the claims of the then main request did not meet the requirements of Article 123(2) EPC [...] in accordance with consistent case law, opposition proceedings are separate and distinct from examination proceedings such that a decision by a board of appeal on an appeal against a decision from an examining division is not binding in subsequent opposition proceedings or on appeals therefrom, having regard both to the EPC and to the principle of res judicata”
  • The Board finds that claim 1 lacks basis. “Both features are however separately defined in claims 2 and 3 of the application as originally filed whereby these claims only depend on claim 1 and do not depend from one another. Claims 2 and 3 therefore do not provide an adequate basis for the combination of these features.”






EPO T 0247/17 -  link



V. The patent proprietor (appellant) lodged an appeal against that decision and filed with the statement of grounds of appeal two sets of claims as first and second auxiliary requests. Also, it was requested to admit the following documents into the proceedings:
D14: Wikipedia article of the term "Carothers equation" dated 1 March 2017
D15: Bland et al., Biomaterials 17 (1996), pages 1109-1114
D16: Schneider et al., Operative Dentistry, 2006, 31-4, pages 489-495
D17: Park et al., Dent. Mater. 2009, December 25 (12): pages 1569-1575
D18: Swiderska et al., Polish Journal of Chemical Technology, 2013, 15(2): pages 81-85
D19: Shalaby et al., Polymers for Dental and Orthopedic Applications, Shalaby and Salz, eds., CRC Press New York NY 2007, pages 112 and 113

Reasons for the Decision
1. Admittance of documents D14-D19
1.1 Article 12(4) RPBA 2007 applies to a statement of grounds of appeal filed before the entry into force of the RPBA 2020 (Article 25(2) RPBA 2020), and thus also to any document filed therewith.
1.2 Documents D14 to D19 were filed with the statement of grounds of appeal. The common denominator to these documents is that they relate to the polymerization of monomers containing more than one polymerizable group. These monomers are referred to as multifunctional monomers in D14-D19.
1.3 The appellant argued that documents D14-D19 were filed to address the reasoning of the opposition division under point 2.11 of the contested decision in which it was concluded that the term "multifunctional acidic monomer" in the sense of claim 1 of the main request covered the monomer 4-AET disclosed in the composition of comparative example 12 of D1, even if that monomer contained only one polymerizable group.

5 Aug 2020

G 2/19 - Manifestly / clearly inadmissible

Key points

  • G 2/19 is available in English since some time (OJ 2020 A87).
Exceptions to the right to oral proceeding
  • The Enlarged Board: "Given the variety in the scope of application of Article 116(1), first sentence, EPC, its nature cannot be considered to be, as it were, absolute. The legislator clearly intended it to serve as a basic rule governing the typical cases facing the departments of the European Patent Office in their everyday practice. However, it cannot be ruled out that exceptions to this basic rule may be made where – as in the case underlying this referral – its application would make no sense in the specific circumstances of an individual case." 
  • “Article 116(1), first sentence, EPC is to be interpreted narrowly, such that a purely formal position as de facto party to appeal proceedings is not enough to confer a right to require that oral proceedings be held if the person requesting them has no standing to appeal, because they were not a party to the foregoing proceedings in the legal sense, or if – as is also the case here – the grievance they invoke is not appealable. Instead, a board called on to examine their request may immediately refuse it as inadmissible in writing and, as the Enlarged Board put it in G 1/97 (see point 6, last paragraph, of the Reasons), without further procedural formalities.”
  • " the boards are not bound under Article 116(1), first sentence, EPC to grant a request for oral proceedings where the appeal is clearly inadmissible."
Exceptions to the suspensive effect of appeals
  • On cases wherein an appeal has no suspension effect (which is relevant under Rule 36 EPC for the filing of divisional applications, although the Board does not expressly say so):
  • “A means of redress is clearly inadmissible where, for example, it is initiated by a person who has no standing to do so (here: a third party within the meaning of Article 115 EPC) or with the aim of seeking relief for a grievance which the European Patent Convention not only does not recognise but in fact excludes as a subject of appeal under Article 106(1) EPC (here: an alleged lack of clarity to be removed from the patent claims for the purposes of Article 84 EPC).” 
  • “Moreover, it logically follows that the initiation of a means of redress which, owing to such circumstances, is clearly inadmissible can have no suspensive effect.” 
  • “Article 106(1), second sentence, EPC provides generally that appeals have suspensive effect but, like Article 116(1), first sentence, EPC, has basic character (see B.II.2 above). It is tailored to the standard case of an appeal filed by a party to the preceding proceedings who was adversely affected by a decision issued in them and who is seeking redress for a grievance which is appealable as such. There is, however, no legitimate interest in also lending suspensive effect to a means of redress, such as an appeal filed by a third party against unclear claims, which has no basis in the European Patent Convention and which is therefore clearly inadmissible. Accordingly, an exception to the general rule in Article 106(1), second sentence, EPC must be made.”
  • Although the appeal at issue is ‘clearly inadmissible’, according to the Enlarged Board  “the criterion of a "manifestly inadmissible appeal" introduces an imprecise legal notion not taken from the European Patent Convention”.
  • “The first question [as formulated by the referring Board], by contrast, amounts to a generalisation applying to all cases in which an appeal appears to be "manifestly inadmissible". Compared with what specifically needs to be clarified for the purposes of the underlying case, an answer to this question is only of extraneous and rather academic interest. That is insufficient to find the question admissible, especially as its reference to the criterion of a "manifestly inadmissible appeal" introduces an imprecise legal notion not taken from the European Patent Convention, which, therefore, does not offer a more detailed basis for defining it more precisely. Nor does the interlocutory decision define it in more detail.”
  • I note that “it is apparent from the referring board's reasons for its interlocutory decision that it reards the request for a legal remedy initiated by J. as manifestly –that is, clearly – inadmissible”.

On Third Party Observervations
  • On Article 115: “a third party is protected only in so far as the department of the European Patent Office concerned is obliged to take note of its observations”.
On holding oral proceedings
  • " At first glance, there may well appear to be a connection between observing or infringing the right to be heard and the geographical location and timing of a judicial hearing. Parties seeking justice may perceive the choice of an entirely unusual place or date as an unwillingness to address their concerns and so regard it as adversely affecting them in the exercise of their rights to a degree that is unacceptable for legal purposes."
  • " At best, such a matter [the place of oral proceedings] can be reviewed in appeal proceedings under Article 106 ff EPC in the context of whether the boards' move to Haar is liable to impair the protected or protectable subjective standing of a party to proceedings to exercise its rights before them."
  • " Users of the European Patent Organisation's services can legitimately expect that the European Patent Office's departments will not perform acts at whatever other place they choose."


EPO G 2/19 - link OJ 2020 A87)


Reasons for the decision
A. Admissibility
I. Article 112(1)(a) EPC provides that in order to ensure uniform application of the law or if an important point of law arises, a board of appeal must, during proceedings on a case and either of its own motion or following a request from a party to the appeal, refer any question to the Enlarged Board of Appeal if it considers that a decision is required for the above purposes.
An additional, unwritten prerequisite for admissibility of a referral is that appeal proceedings initiated by an admissible appeal are pending before the referring board, unless the referral concerns some aspect of the very matter of admissibility. The point of that exception is that the boards would otherwise have no way of referring questions of fundamental importance for the admissibility of an appeal to the Enlarged Board (G 2/04, OJ EPO 2005, 549, point 1.2 of the Reasons; G 1/12OJ EPO 2014, A114, point 9 of the Reasons).
II. Under Article 112(1)(a) EPC, it is primarily up to the referring board to examine whether the admissibility requirements are met (see G 1/14, point 2 of the Reasons).

4 Aug 2020

T 2830/18 - Appeal in limitation proceedings

Key points

  • This is a rare kind of appeal: an appeal concerning a refused limitation request under Art. 105a-c.
  • Claim 9 as granted specifies a yield strength (Dehngrenze) of "- 190 MPa", the requested amendment is " >= 210 MPa"
  • The formulation " - 190 MPa" is unusual. 
  • The Board: “Die einzig technisch sinnvolle Auslegung ergibt sich durch Konsultation der Beschreibung. [...] Der erteilte Anspruch 9 ist demzufolge so auszulegen, dass die Härte HB >= 80, die Dehngrenze Rp0,2 >= [190*] MPa, [...]". (*= correction at my end, PJL)
  • With this interpretation of claim 9 as granted, the amendment into >= 210 is indeed a limitation.
  • " Demzufolge sind auch die Bedingungen der Regel 95(2) EPÜ erfüllt, sodass der Beschränkung stattgegeben werden kann, wenn die Bedingungen der Regel 95(3) EPÜ erfüllt werden."



"9. Vormaterial nach Anspruch 8, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass der daraus hergestellte ausscheidungsgehärtete Bau- oder Formteil folgende mechanische Kennwerte besitzt
Härte HB - 80
Dehngrenze Rp0,2 - 190 MPa, vorzugsweise = 210
Zugfestigkeit Rm - 240 MPa, vorzugsweise = 260
Gleichmaßdehnung Ag - 12%"


Der der Entscheidung zugrunde liegende Beschränkungsantrag betraf nur die Ansprüche 8 und 9 und enthielt folgende Änderungen gegenüber den erteilten Ansprüchen (Hervorhebung durch die Kammer): [...]
"9. [...] Formteil folgende mechanische Kennwerte besitzt
Härte HB >= 80
Dehngrenze Rp0,2 >= 210 MPa
Zugfestigkeit Rm >= 240 MPa, vorzugsweise >= 260
Gleichmaßdehnung Ag >= 12%"


EPO T 2830/18 - link



Entscheidungsgründe


1. Dem Antrag auf Beschränkung kann aus folgenden Gründen stattgegeben werden:

Gemäß Artikel 105b(1) EPÜ prüft das Europäische Patentamt, ob die in der Ausführungsordnung festgelegten Erfordernisse für eine Beschränkung erfüllt sind. Dabei wird nach Regel 95(2) EPÜ geprüft, ob die geänderten Patentansprüche gegenüber den Ansprüchen in der erteilten Fassung eine Beschränkung darstellen und den Artikeln 84 und 123 Absätze 2 und 3 genügen.

Die einzigen Ansprüche, die gegenüber dem erteilten Patent geändert wurden sind vorliegend die Ansprüche 8 und 9, sodass nur diese zu prüfen sind.

1.1 Artikel 84 EPÜ

Die eingefügten Änderungen sind klar, sodass die Bedingungen des Artikels 84 EPÜ bezüglich der Änderungen erfüllt sind.

1.2 Artikel 123(2) EPÜ

Ansprüche 8 und 9 gehen unmittelbar und eindeutig aus den Ansprüchen 9 und 10 der ursprünglich eingereichten Anmeldung hervor. Die Bedingungen des Artikel 123(2) EPÜ sind somit erfüllt.

1.3 Artikel 123(3) EPÜ

Es ist anerkannte Rechtsprechung, dass zum Zwecke des Artikels 123(3) EPÜ ein Anspruch so auszulegen ist, dass er technischen Sinn ergibt und die gesamte Offenbarung des Patents berücksichtigt wird (siehe Rechtsprechung der Beschwerdekammern, 9.Auflage, 2019, II, E.2.3.3).

In der angefochtenen Entscheidung hat die Prüfungsabteilung das Zeichen "-" entweder (a) als Minus oder (b) als Gleichheitszeichen angesehen.

Ad (a): Im vorliegenden Fall erkennt die Fachperson, dass die Ansprüche 8 und 9 des erteilten Patents fehlerhaft sein müssen, da negative Angaben bezüglich der Härte, Dehngrenze, Zugfestigkeit und Gleichmaßdehnung im beanspruchten Kontext technisch nicht sinnvoll sind.

Ad (b): Auch bei der Deutung als Gleichheitszeichen ist der Wortlaut der Ansprüche mit Widersprüchen behaftet, da die allgemeinen und die bevorzugten, jeweils singulären Werte für die Dehngrenze und die Festigkeit voneinander abweichen (z.B. Dehngrenze Rp0,2= 140 MPa, vorzugsweise = 130 MPa).

Die einzig technisch sinnvolle Auslegung ergibt sich durch Konsultation der Beschreibung. Auf Seite 4, Zeilen 29 bis 34 der B1-Publikation sind die mechanischen Kennwerte der stabilisierten Keimstruktur angegeben, sodass der erteilte Anspruch 8 so auszulegen ist, dass die Härte HB <= 65 (2,5/62,5/16), die Dehngrenze Rp0,2<= 140 MPa, die Zugfestigkeit Rm <= 270 MPa und die Gleichmaßdehnung Ag >= 18% der Keimstruktur sind. Entsprechendes gilt für die mechanischen Kennwerte des ausscheidungsgehärteten Bau- oder Formteils, die auf Seite 4, Zeilen 51 bis 54 der B1-Publikation angegeben sind. Der erteilte Anspruch 9 ist demzufolge so auszulegen, dass die Härte HB >= 80, die Dehngrenze Rp0,2 >= 240 MPa, die Zugfestigkeit Rm >= 240 MPa und die Gleichmaßdehnung Ag >= 12% sind.

Die Ansprüche 8 und 9 des vorliegenden Antrags wurden dahingehend geändert, dass die Dehngrenzen in beiden Ansprüchen auf die bevorzugten Bereiche eingeschränkt sind. Eine Einschränkung gegenüber den erteilten Ansprüchen, wenn auch nur in einem mechanischen Kennwert, liegt somit vor und die Bedingungen des Artikels 123(3) EPÜ sind erfüllt.

1.4 Demzufolge sind auch die Bedingungen der Regel 95(2) EPÜ erfüllt, sodass der Beschränkung stattgegeben werden kann, wenn die Bedingungen der Regel 95(3) EPÜ erfüllt werden.

2. Artikel 112(1)a) EPÜ

Es ist etablierte Rechtsprechung, dass eine Vorlagefrage für die Entscheidung der Beschwerdekammer in der ihr zugrunde liegenden Sache maßgeblich sein muss (Rechtsprechung der Beschwerdekammern, 9. Auflage 2019, V.B.2.3.3).

Selbst wenn der im Abschnitt III. zitierte Vorschlag der Patentinhaberin, die angeführten Fragestellungen der Großen Beschwerdekammer vorzutragen, als formaler Antrag angesehen würde, so ist eine derartige Vorlage für die gegenständliche Entscheidung nicht angebracht. Da der vorliegende Fall sich auf etablierte Rechtsprechung bezüglich der Auslegung von Ansprüchen unter Artikel 123(3) EPÜ stützt und durch die Kammer auf der alleinigen Grundlage des vorliegenden Sachverhalts entschieden werden kann, ist eine Vorlage der von der Beschwerdeführerin vorgeschlagenen Rechtsfragen an die Große Beschwerdekammer nicht erforderlich.

Entscheidungsformel
Aus diesen Gründen wird entschieden:
1. Die angefochtene Entscheidung wird aufgehoben.
2. Die Sache wird an die Prüfungsabteilung zurückverwiesen mit der Anordnung das Patent auf Basis der Ansprüche des vorliegenden Antrags eingereicht am 24. Januar 2017 zu beschränken.

3 Aug 2020

National law: CPA and procedural economy

Key points
  • In this national patent case from the District Court The Hague, the patentee submitted that an inventive step attack should fail because the attack started from a document which was (in its view) not the closest prior art. The Court disagrees with this argument. However, the reason they give is interesting.
  • “An invention must be inventive in view of any document from the relevant state of the art that is a realistic starting point for the average skilled person to come to the invention. The reason for starting from the closest prior art in the assessment is purely a consideration of procedural economy: when an invention is assessed to be inventive with regard to the closest prior art, this generally also applies with regard to prior art documents which are further removed from the invention.”
  • Cf. Szabo 1986: " Instead of taking an arbitrary starting point for the invention, as a modification of what was already specifically known, it is more reasonable and economic to select the "closest art" for the purpose. [...]  If the invention is, on the other hand, upheld in spite of the existence of the closest art, other less relevant citations need hardly be considered as starting points for such challenge[...]  An opponent may nevertheless always try to launch an attack based on a different document, and if successful, this would become the closest art in the given circumstances."  (G.S.A. Szabo, The problem and solution approach to the inventive step, E.I.P.R. 1986, 8(10), 293-303)

Disctrict Court The Hague 28 May 2020 (Sisvel vs. Oppo)
ECLI:NL:RBDHA:2020:4632

(translation)

Closest prior art
4.25 Sisvel further disputes that [the document] Eriksson can serve as a starting point for the inventive attack because this document cannot be regarded as the closest prior art when using the PSA. 
That defense does not make sense either. An invention must be inventive in view of any document from the relevant state of the art that is a realistic starting point for the average skilled person to come to the invention. The reason for starting from the closest prior art in the assessment is purely a consideration of procedural economy: when an invention is assessed to be inventive with regard to the closest prior art, this generally also applies with regard to prior art documents which are further removed from the invention. 

In addition, in this case Eriksson focuses on error correction mechanisms in wireless transmission using EGPRS, in particular also throughput or data rate. It also raises the question of how to increase the granularity of code rates. This is in the same technical field as the subject of the patent. The court, therefore, considers Eriksson a suitable starting point for the PSA.



(original)

meest nabij stand van de techniek
4.25. Sisvel betwist voorts dat Eriksson als uitgangspunt kan dienen voor de inventiviteitsaanval omdat dit document niet kan worden aangemerkt als dichtstbijzijnde stand van de techniek bij toepassing van de PSA. Ook dat verweer snijdt geen hout. Een uitvinding dient inventief te zijn ten opzichte van ieder document uit de relevante stand van de techniek dat een reëel uitgangspunt voor de gemiddelde vakman is om tot de uitvinding te kunnen komen. De reden om bij de beoordeling uit te gaan van de meest nabije stand van de techniek is zuiver een proceseconomische afweging: wanneer een uitvinding inventief wordt beoordeeld ten aanzien van de meest nabij stand van de techniek, geldt dit in het algemeen eveneens ten aanzien van verder van de uitvinding af liggende anticipaties. Daar komt bij dat in dit geval Eriksson ziet op foutcorrectiemechanismen bij draadloze verzending met gebruikmaking van EGPRS, in het bijzonder mede op de throughput of datasnelheid. Daarbij komt ook de vraag aan de orde hoe de granulariteit van codesnelheden14 verhoogd kan worden. Dit ligt op hetzelfde technische terrein als het onderwerp van het octrooi. De rechtbank acht Eriksson dan ook een geschikt uitgangspunt voor de PSA.

1 Aug 2020

Summertime writing - 2020 AIPPI Essay Prize

The AIPPI Essay Prize is intended to encourage the art of essay writing on Intellectual Property and related topics. There are two possible prizes for AIPPI members and a separate prize for IP students.

The subject of the 2020 AIPPI Essay Prize is: ‘COVID-19 and its impact on the world of IP

31 Jul 2020

T 0072/16 - Tacit secrecy agreement

Key points

  • This case is about proofing a tacit secrecy agreement in opposition. The OD heard a witness on the matter. 
  • “The opposition division arrived at the conclusion that on the basis of the evidence on file and the testimony of the witness, Mr. Krajewski, Aspen Aerogels, Inc. (hereinafter: Aspen) shipped 48 pipe sections manufactured as shown in the video D11 to Technip France (hereinafter: Technip) on 27 January 2005 and that Technip received and used them without being bound by confidentiality. According to the testimony, [seller] Aspen was bound by confidentiality, but it was not reciprocal. The opposition division was convinced that neither an express confidentiality agreement nor an implicit obligation of confidentiality existed.”
  • “The board does not question the opposition division's conclusion insofar as Aspen shipped 48 pipe sections manufactured as shown in the video D11 to Technip on 27 January 2005 and that Technip received and used them. This statement appears also not to be contested by the respondent/proprietor. However, the board considers that, during the oral proceedings before it, the respondent has convincingly demonstrated on the basis of documents D12, D13, D14 and the testimony of Mr. Krajewski, that said sale and shipment of 48 panels on 27 January 2005 was carried out under an explicit non-disclosure-agreement binding both Aspen and Technip or that there was at least an implicit confidentiality agreement, and that this has not been disproved by the appellant [opponent].”
  • The Board: “there is no reason to apply a standard of proof stricter than that of "balance of probabilities". According to the established jurisprudence of the boards of appeal, the stricter standard of "beyond reasonable doubt" should be applied when all the evidence in support of the alleged prior public use lies within the power and knowledge of the opponent, while the patent proprietor has barely any or no access to it at all []. However, neither has it been established in the present case that all the evidence for the alleged prior use lies within the power and knowledge of the appellant, nor is there any evidence before the board that Aspen is a company belonging to a group the opponent is part of or any indication of similar circumstances that would justify that Aspen be assimilated to the appellant.”
  • The Board considers it proven that the shipped pipe sections were " a development product, a prototype supplied in the course of an ongoing collaboration programme between these two partners." The documentary evidence indicates an NDA. The witness testimony does not refute this.
  • “the board does not doubt the witness's credibility or whether the testimony corresponds to the witness's true recollection. However, the probative value of the statements concerning the existence of a NDA []is not persuasive in this respect when compared to the evidence on file, in particular with regard to the confidentiality clause in D13, page 2. [...] It is not surprising that the witness, an engineer, not an IP specialist, was not aware of all the confidentiality requirements binding the other party, as also stated in document D12. This is also consistent with his declarations on his role in the project [...]”



EPO T 0072/16 - link



Summary of Facts and Submissions


I. The opponent filed an appeal against the decision of the opposition division on the amended form in which European patent No. 2 293 920 ("the patent") can be maintained.

The opposition division admitted the following evidence in support of an alleged prior use:

D11: Demonstration video of Aspen Aerogels Inc.;

D11a: Signed declaration by Mr Mark Krajewski;

dated 7 October 2013

D12: Signed declaration by Mr Mark Krajewski;

dated 30 October 2014

D13: Product Assembly Specification of Aspen

dated 22 November 2004

D14: Bill of Lading from Shipco Transport

dated 27 January 2005.

The opposition division also heard a witness (Mr Mark Krajewski). The minutes of the taking of evidence by hearing the witness will be referred to as document "MMK" in what follows.

II. The oral proceedings before the board were held on 20 February 2020.

III. The appellant (opponent) requested that the decision under appeal be set aside and the patent be revoked.

The respondent (patent proprietor) requested that the appeal be dismissed (main request), or that the decision under appeal be set aside and the patent be maintained in amended form on the basis of the sets of claims filed as first and second auxiliary requests in response to the statement of grounds of appeal by letter of 13 July 2016.

IV. In the decision under appeal the opposition division evaluated the evidence related to the alleged public prior use as follows:


"[2.2.1] Mr. Krajewski's testimony was free of contradictions. He acknowledged gaps in his memory, which is natural after more than 10 years. He was nevertheless able to recite the events around the manufacture of the pipe section from his own immediate experience. He was part of the team manufacturing the 48 pipe sections later shipped to Technip, France according to D14, and he was the videographer of D11. The opposition division therefore considered his testimony to be credible.