Oral proceedings

Contents

Chapter 1. Definition

Chapter 2. Conditions

Section 2.1. Principle

Section 2.2. Obligation to grant the request

Section 2.3. Obligation to respect the principle of legitimate expectations

Section 2.4. Explicit withdrawal of the request for oral proceedings

Section 2.5. Implied withdrawal of the request for oral proceedings

Chapter 3. Citation to oral proceedings

Section 3.1. Content of the quote

Section 3.2. Deadline to produce documents and documents

Section 3.3. Adjournment of the oral proceedings

3.3.1. At the initiative of a party

1) Principle

2) Date of request for adjournment

3) Serious reasons

4) Non-serious reasons

5) Motivation of the EPO in case of refusal

3.3.2. On the initiative of the EPO

3.3.3. New date

Section 3.4. Incorrect quote

Chapter 4. No appearance

Section 4.1. Principles

Section 4.2. Simple delay

Section 4.3. Absence

4.3.1. Principle

4.3.2. Room / Division Information

4.3.3. Examination

4.3.4. Opposition

4.3.5. recourse

4.3.6. Express waiver to participate in the oral proceedings

Chapter 5. Conduct of the oral proceedings

Section 5.1. Technical modalities

5.1.1. Oral procedure in physics

5.1.2. Oral procedure by videoconference

1) Examination Division

2) Examination Division

5.1.3. recordings

5.1.4. Electronic appliances

5.1.5. Speaking time

5.1.6. Speaking

5.1.7. PowerPoint presentation slides "Power-Point"

5.1.8. Changes to the request

Section 5.2. Practical arrangements

5.2.1. Verification of identities

5.2.2. Credentials

Section 5.3. Facts, proofs or late changes

5.3.1. In the first place

1) Late facts and evidence

2) Late changes

3) Economic aspect

5.3.2. In appeal proceedings

Section 5.4. Presentation of several possible attacks on the inventive step

Section 5.5. Closing of the oral proceedings

5.5.1. Last modifications before decisions

5.5.2. Decision

5.5.3. Minutes

Chapter 6. Public / non-public procedure

Section 6.1. Non public procedure

Section 6.2. Public procedure

See the latest changes

Chapter 1. Definition

An oral procedure is an official procedure within the meaning ofA116 CBE (or in the sense ofA15 RPCR for the appeal).

It is not therefore:

  • an informal interview with the Examiner;
  • a telephone conversation.

Chapter 2. Conditions

Section 2.1. Principle

Oral proceedings may be held (A116 (1) EPC):

It is quite possible that the quotation will be sent even before another notification is sent by the Examination Division (Guidelines C-III 5) :

  • if there is no likelihood of a patent being issued;
  • the claims have not been amended since the RREE;
  • the objections raised in the RREE are still relevant and have a decisive impact.

The procedure must be pending on the day of submission of the request (T556 / 95), ie

  • in general, up to 3 days before the date of the decision (G12 / 91) unless a date of delivery to internal mail is clearly indicated on the decision (T2573 / 11);
  • in opposition and where there are irregularities which may give rise to an untraded or inadmissible opposition, until the opposition is finally deemed to be unformed or inadmissible (Directives E-III 2.1).

As regards the oral examination procedure, it is not possible to trigger it before a response to an A94 (3) EPC notification has been issued (Directives C-III 4).

Section 2.2. Obligation to grant the request

If a party requests oral proceedings, the competent body is obliged to grant this request (A116 (1) EPC and Directives E-III 2).

Nevertheless, if for same facts and for same parts a new oral procedure is requested, it may be rejected (A116 (1) EPC):

  • if the facts are changed after the first oral procedure which did not terminate the proceedings by a decision (eg new documents), the application must be granted (T194 / 96 and Directives E-III 3);
  • if new (even procedural) issues are raised (eg admissibility according to the R137 (3) EPC), the application must be granted (T1775 / 12).

In addition, there is an exception regarding the deposit section. The latter may refuse oral proceedings (informing the applicant, Directives E-III 2) if (A116 (2) EPC):

  • if it does not consider it useful, and
  • if the rejection of the application is not considered.

If a party has requested oral proceedings without indicating that the request was made only incidentally, and that the competent body intends to grant the applicant's request on the merits, the The complainant is informed and the EPO asks if his request for oral proceedings is withdrawn. If no withdrawal occurs, oral proceedings must take place (Directives E-III 2).

Section 2.3. Obligation to respect the principle of legitimate expectations

If the EPO indicates that the next step will be an oral procedure but that the holder has never requested the latter, it is not possible for the EPO to change its mind without prior warning (T1423 / 13).

Indeed, the applicant can legitimately expect to be summoned to oral proceedings and to take a decision without this oral procedure would be a breach of the principle of legitimate expectations.

Section 2.4. Explicit withdrawal of the request for oral proceedings

It is quite possible to withdraw the request for oral proceedings and to request a return to the written procedure (Directives E-III 7.2.2).

The EPO then decides whether to maintain or cancel the scheduled oral proceedings.

Section 2.5. Implied withdrawal of the request for oral proceedings

As indicated below with regard to non-appearance, the fact of indicating to the EPO that one will not be present at the oral proceedings is interpreted by the EPO as a withdrawal of the request for oral proceedings (Directives E-III 7.2.2).

Moreover, the fact that an applicant (in an appeal) does not provide a statement of appeal despite reminders from the EPO is considered an implicit withdrawal of the request for oral proceedings (T2162 / 14).

Chapter 3. Citation to oral proceedings

Section 3.1. Content of the quote

The summons to oral proceedings must mention (Directives E-III 6):

  • the subject of the oral proceedings;
  • the day and the hour;
    • only one date is fixed ("Notice from the European Patent Office dated 18 December 2008 concerning oral proceedings before the EPO” , OY 2009, 68 andNotice from the Vice-President, Directorate-General 3 of the European Patent Office dated 16 July 2007 concerning the holding of oral proceedings before the boards of appeal of the EPO” , OG 2007, Special Edition No. 3, H.1, point 1);
  • the place (chosen freely by the EPO without the possibility of asking to change T1012 / 03);
  • a provisional and non-binding notice of the proceeding;
  • an invitation to submit observations and evidence (Directives E-III 5);
  • the date up to which it is possible to produce documents or parts (R116 (1) EPC) : later 2 months before the oral procedure (Directives E-III 5 or D-VI 3.2 Guidelines).

Section 3.2. Deadline to produce documents and documents

As mentioned above, the EPO sets a deadline for submission for oral proceedings.

This date does not benefit from the provisions of the R132 EPC (R116 (1) EPC).

The D-VI 3.2 Guidelines conclude then that this date is not "decalable". The Board of Appeal T1750 / 14 does not share this analysis: according to her, this deadline is subject to the discretion of the EPO and the exemn (or opposition) division may therefore decide to postpone it or refuse its postponement (but must then motivate it). ).

Section 3.3. Adjournment of the oral proceedings

3.3.1. At the initiative of a party

1) Principle

A motion to fix another date may be made if there are substantial grounds for an adjournment (seeA15 (2) RPCR for the appeal).

The request must be motivated in a written declaration:

  • for oral proceedings before a court of first instance:
    • (“Notice from the European Patent Office dated 18 December 2008 concerning oral proceedings before the EPO” , OY 2009, 68);
  • for an oral procedure before a board of appeal:
    • (“Notice from the Vice-President, Directorate-General 3 of the European Patent Office dated 16 July 2007 concerning the holding of oral proceedings before the boards of appeal of the EPO” , OG 2007, Special Edition No. 3, H.1, point 2 and theA15 RPCR).
2) Date of request for adjournment

This adjournment must be requested as soon as possible.

If the adjournment is requested late:

  • this postponement may be accepted, and a decision may also be taken regarding the apportionment of costs (T930 / 92 and Directives E-III 8.3.3.1);
  • this postponement may be refused (ex. 1 week before the oral proceedings T1080 / 99).
3) Serious reasons

Are serious reasons (Directives E-III 7.1.1 or "Notice from the Vice-President, Directorate-General 3 of the European Patent Office dated 16 July 2007 concerning the holding of oral proceedings before the boards of appeal of the EPO"Additional publication, Supplementary publication, OJ 1/2016, VII.1):

  • a summons to another procedure (oral or national) in the days before or after the date fixed;
  • a serious illness
    • the incapacity of the mandatary to move and present his case satisfactorily, T447 / 13 ;
    • no medical certificate is required by the directives, T447 / 13 ;
  • a death in the family;
  • a marriage ;
  • business trips or holidays which have already been the subject of a firm reservation before service of the summons to the oral proceedings.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to explain in detail how the agent can not be replaced by another agent ("Notice from the Vice-President, Directorate-General 3 of the European Patent Office dated 16 July 2007 concerning the holding of oral proceedings before the boards of appeal of the EPO"Additional publication, Supplementary publication, OJ 1/2016, VII.1 and T861 / 12):

  • Replacement cost issues are not a criterion;
  • The fact that the mandated attorney had specific knowledge in relation to the legal and technical issues to be discussed is too vague (T861 / 12);
  • A personal relationship between the agent and the client is not enough (T861 / 12) .
4) Non-serious reasons

Are not serious reasons (Directives E-III 7):

  • a heavy workload;
  • a citation to another procedure (oral or national), but served after service of the summons on oral proceedings;
  • the fact that the oral procedure is a Monday or a Friday and that this requires traveling the WE;
  • a serious illness of the holder without any justification as to why his presence is necessary (T275 / 89);
  • the fact that a US participant must participate in the process, but that day is a holiday in the United States (T664 / 00).
5) Motivation of the EPO in case of refusal

En tout état de cause, en cas de refus de l’ajournement,  l’OEB doit motiver sa décision afin d’expliquer en quoi son pouvoir discrétionnaire à correctement été utilisé (T447 / 13): she must therefore explain the reasons why she considers the statement of reasons insufficient.

Cette motivation ne doit pas être qu’un simple rappel de fait (ex. “le motif donné n’est pas dans les Directives” ou “Nous vous avions prévenu que le changement de mandataire n’était pas de nature à déplacer la PO” T2018 / 17) but must explain in detail the reason for the refusal taking into account the facts of the case.

3.3.2. On the initiative of the EPO

Exceptionally, the division may adjourn the oral proceedings:

  • if one of its members is in a situation mentioned above, and
  • if it is not possible to find a member who can replace it.

3.3.3. New date

The new date must allow a minimum period of 2 months between the notification of the new date and the oral procedure (unless the parties agree on a shorter period, Directives E-III 7.2).

Section 3.4. Incorrect quote

If a party has not been convened in the required form, and the latter is absent during the oral proceedings, it must be mentioned in the minutes, close the oral proceedings and set a new date (Directives E-III 8.3.3.1).

Chapter 4. No appearance

Section 4.1. Principles

The fact that a party does not show up is not a reason for not holding this oral procedure (R115 (2) EPC or theA15 (3) RPCR for the appeal).

This principle is recalled in the summons to oral proceedings (R115 (1) EPC).

Any restitutio in integrum can not be granted if a party has not been able to come because of an impediment (Directives E-VIII 3.1.1).

If a party comes after the end of the oral proceedings, the latter may be reopened (Directives E-III 8.3.3.1):

  • if the parties agree, and
  • if no decision has been taken at the end of this oral procedure.

Section 4.2. Simple delay

If a party shows up late, but before the end of the oral proceedings, that party has the right to be heard (Directives E-III 8.3.3.1).

Section 4.3. Absence

4.3.1. Principle

Even if a party did not compare, the provisions of theA113 EPC remain applicable and this party retains the right to defend itself in relation to possible new facts (Directives E-III 8.3.3.2 for opposition and Directives E-III 8.3.3.3 for the exam).

4.3.2. Room / Division Information

Where possible, the representative who is instructed not to appear in oral proceedings must inform the Examining Division, the Opposition Division or the Board of Appeal.

There is no obligation in itself (T1760 / 09) but the principle of courtesy (erected by the "Code of Professional Conduct concerning the members of the Institute of Professional Representatives before the European Patent Office” , OG 1/2015, additional publication) must prevail (T1939 / 10).

In addition, a resolution of the EPI indicates that the representative must inform the EPO of his non-attendance at least one month in advance ("EPI - Compendium of Council Decisions, updated on 15/06/2016“).

In most cases, simply indicating that one will not be present at the oral proceedings is interpreted as a withdrawal of the request for oral proceedings (this is debatable, but it is the directives that say it: Directives E-III 7.2.2)

4.3.3. Examination

In review, the summons to oral proceedings must mention any new fact and thus ensures that the right of the applicant to be heard (Directives E-III 8.3.3.3 andNotice from the European Patent Office concerning non-appearance in oral proceedings before the Examining Division” , OG 2008, 471).

If ever the claimant files amended claims in response to the citation, he can reasonably expect that such changes may be rejected in the course of proceedings on the basis of new claims. case (G4 / 92, Directives E-III 8.3.3.3 andNotice from the European Patent Office concerning non-appearance in oral proceedings before the Examining Division” , OG 2008, 471).

On the other hand, it is not possible to use new facts (eg documents of the prior art, G4 / 92) or to expose a new reasoning based on existing facts. If an Examining Division ignores it, it sets its decision on a procedural violation (T1448 / 09 or, for the new reasoning, T1448 / 09).

News evidence (which may be prior art documents proving the general knowledge of those skilled in the art) may be presented during the oral proceedings if (G4 / 92):

  • they were previously announced
  • they only confirm the allegations of the party invoked by them.

4.3.4. Opposition

In opposition, a party may very well cite new facts or means, even during the oral proceedings (under certain conditions, see below).

The procedure is then the following, in case of absence of a part (Directives E-III 8.3.3.2):

  • new claims proposed during the oral proceedings in order to overcome objections of the opponent are acceptable even in the absence of the opponent (T202 / 92);
  • new arguments may be used if they do not alter the grounds on which the decision is based (G4 / 92);
  • these new facts or means are usable if the absent party has already tried, before the oral proceedings, to refute them (T133 / 92)
  • it must be examined whether these new facts or means are late (A114 (2) EPC);
  • if they are eligible, these new facts or means can not be used than to make a decision against a party present (G4 / 92 ex. used to revoke a patent if the absent party is an opponent and the holder is present, T1049 / 03).

4.3.5. recourse

A priori, the decision G4 / 92 no longer applicable to the appeal procedure since the entry into force of the new rules of procedure of the Boards of Appeal on 1 May 2003 and new facts and arguments could be submitted during the procedure, possibly basing a decision against an absent party (T1621 / 09, T706 / 00 andInstructions for parties to appeal proceedings and their representatives” , OJ 2003, 419point 3.5).

Nevertheless, the admissibility of such facts and means should pass through the sieve of A13 (3) RPCR.

4.3.6. Express waiver to participate in the oral proceedings

If the holder indicates that he has decided not to participate in the oral proceedings, this statement shall be construed as a waiver of the right to be heard according to theA113 (1) EPC (T892 / 94): the decision can then be based on new facts and means.

Chapter 5. Conduct of the oral proceedings

Section 5.1. Technical modalities

5.1.1. Oral procedure in physics

In principle, oral proceedings take place at the premises of the EPO.

5.1.2. Oral procedure by videoconference

1) Examination Division

However, it is possible to request that oral proceedings before the Examining Division be held by videoconference ("Information note concerning interviews and oral proceedings to be organized in the form of videoconferencing” , OJ 1997, 572, “Update of the notice from the European Patent Office dated 15 November 2018 concerning interviews and oral proceedings to be held in the form of videoconferences” , OJ 2018, A96 and Directives E-III 11)

Videoconferencing is left to the discretion of the examiner who may decide to refuse it on a discretionary basis ("Update of the notice from the European Patent Office dated 15 November 2018 concerning interviews and oral proceedings to be held in the form of videoconferences” , OJ 2018, A96), without recourse and without this constituting a substantial procedural violation (T2068 / 64).

In the case of videoconferencing, documents submitted during the oral proceedings (ie under the R50 EPC) may be submitted:

  • by fax (Directives E-III 11.3.1) or
  • by e-mail ("Decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 20 April 2012 concerning the filing of documents by e-mail during interviews and oral proceedings organized in the form of videoconferencesOG 2012, 348 and Directives E-III 11.3.2).
2) Examination Division

While videoconferences before an examining division are explicitly regulated, there is currently no corresponding provision for boards of appeal.

It seems, however, that this is also possible for the procedures ex parte before the Boards of Appeal (T1266 / 07), if this videoconference is not incompatible with the requirement that the oral procedure before the Boards of Appeal is public (T1266 / 07, including the availability of rooms for this videoconference).

The Boards of Appeal may refuse it on a discretionary basis (T2068 / 14).

5.1.3. recordings

Only an EPO official can record the oral proceedings, but the recording is only used in exceptional circumstances (eg witness hearing).

This registration is only kept until the end of any proceedings that may be initiated and is never communicated to the parties (Directives E-III 10.1).

The parties are not allowed to register ("Notice from the Vice-Presidents responsible for Directorates-General 2 and 3 dated 25 February 1986 concerning the use of sound recording devices in oral proceedings before the EPO” , OJ 1986, 63 andNotice from the Vice-President of Directorate-General 3 of the European Patent Office dated 16 July 2007 concerning the use of sound recording devices in oral proceedings before the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Office EPO” , OG 2007, Special Edition No. 3, H.2 or "Notice from the Vice-President, Directorate-General 3, dated 10 February 2014, concerning the use of laptops or other electronic devices in oral proceedings before the boards of appeal” , OJ 2014, A21).

5.1.4. Electronic appliances

Electronic devices are allowed if they do not interfere with other participants and are not used to make sound recordings (Directives E-III 8.2.1 or "Notice from the Vice-President, Directorate-General 3, dated 10 February 2014, concerning the use of laptops or other electronic devices in oral proceedings before the boards of appeal” , OJ 2014, A21).

5.1.5. Speaking time

It is quite possible for the EPO to limit the speaking time of participants as a necessary procedural measure (T601 / 05).

5.1.6. Speaking

In addition, only attorneys are normally allowed to speak. Nevertheless, a person accompanying the representative may be allowed to speak if (G4 / 95) :

  • this person speaks under the control and supervision of the attorney 
  • this is authorized by the EPO (authorization left to his discretion)

In the context of an opposition, the main conditions of the EPO agreement are (G4 / 95) :

  • an authorization must be requested and must contain the name and qualifications of the person wishing to speak and specify the purpose of the oral presentation;
  • this authorization must reach the EPO sufficiently early before the oral proceedings: the opposing parties must be able to prepare their response to this statement. Otherwise the authorization must be refused (if agreed by the opponents) (point 10 of the reasons);
  • Speaking is under the permanent responsibility and control of the authorized representative (point 8 of the reasons).

There is no particular reason to limit the quality of this person (eg it can be a former member of the EPO, under certain conditions G2 / 94) or the subject of the discussion (technical or legal, T661 / 14)

5.1.7. PowerPoint presentation slides "Power-Point"

These slideshows are only possible with the discretion of the competent authority (T1556 / 06 and Directives E-III 8.5.1).

It should be noted that the EPO does not provide a projector (Directives E-III 8.5.1).

As part of the procedures inter partesthe presentation should be provided well in advance. The Opposition Division must assess whether this presentation allows the appellant to defend himself (eg situation or very complex product) and the other party to understand the means invoked (Directives E-III 8.5.1.1).

As part of the procedures ex-partethe competent body may be more flexible and may even authorize such a presentation even though it is proposed during the oral proceedings (Directives E-III 8.5.1.2).

5.1.8. Changes to the request

It may happen that, during oral proceedings, amendments are proposed by the applicant.

These modifications must respect the conditions of the R49 EPC and R50 EPCand, in principle, must be typed or printed ("Notice from the European Patent Office dated 8 November 2013 concerning the application of Rules 49 and 50 EPC in the case of handwritten amendments” , OG 2013, 603): thus, the handwritten modifications must in principle be forbidden.

It is therefore recommended to bring ("Notice from the European Patent Office dated 8 November 2013 concerning the application of Rules 49 and 50 EPC in the case of handwritten amendments” , OG 2013, 603):

  • a laptop or similar device to prepare changes
  • electronic versions of application documents

Printers are normally at the disposal of the agents.

Section 5.2. Practical arrangements

5.2.1. Verification of identities

The identity of the persons present must be identified before the beginning of the oral proceedings (unless they are known by a person of the division, Directives E-III 8.3.1).

5.2.2. Credentials

It must be verified that if a party is represented byDirectives E-III 8.3.1 andDecision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 12 July 2007 concerning the deposit of powers” , OG 2007, Special Edition No. 3, L.1):

  • a professional representative who does not have a sub-delegation and is not part of the same firm as the usual representative, and who intervenes for the first time in the oral proceedings, or
  • a lawyer or an employee of a party who is not a professional representative.

This check is as follows:

  • if the person is an authorized agent, the division checks the file to determine whether the former mandatary's power has expired:
    • if the power of the former attorney has expired no further action is necessary.
    • otherwise, the agent concerned is asked to indicate a reference to a general power of attorney or to deposit a particular power.
  • if the person is a lawyer or an employee, the division asks that person to indicate a reference to a general power of attorney or to file a particular power.

When a power is missing, the procedure can continue normallybut:

  • the person concerned is invited to produce this power as soon as possible (immediately, or if this is not possible, under 2 months);
  • no decision can be pronounced until the power is provided.

Section 5.3. Facts, proofs or late changes

5.3.1. In the first place

This paragraph does not apply to late submissions (T131 / 01).

In oral proceedings, the summons indicates a date after which the facts, evidence (R116 (1) EPC) or modifications (R116 (2) EPC) will be considered late: normally, this date precedes 1 month the date of the oral proceedings (D-VI 3.2 Guidelines).

1) Late facts and evidence

The division is free not to take into account these facts, late proofs (R116 (1) EPC).

Nevertheless, the Opposition Division may accept these facts or evidence if they are, prima facie, relevant (T156 / 84) or if they are motivated by changes in the facts of the case (eg modifications of the claims made by the holder which obliges the opponent to quote a new document, H-II Guidelines 2.7.1).

2) Late changes

The division is free not to take into account these late modifications (T1105 / 98 and T681 / 02).

Nevertheless, the Opposition Division may accept these changes if they are motivated by new relevant elements (T951 / 97 and T273 / 04).

In any case, it is necessary that these late modifications born are not, prima facie, no admissible (eg violation ofA123 (2) EPC evident E-VI 2.1 Guidelines).

3) Economic aspect

If these facts, proofs or late amendments result in the adjournment of the proceedings, the division may examine the distribution of costs or simply decide not to take them into account (Directives E-III 8.6).

5.3.2. In appeal proceedings

The R116 CBE does not apply before the Boards of Appeal (G6 / 95): only appliesA15 RPCR.

Amendments requested after the date of the proceedings have been fixed can not be admitted if they raise questions which can not be dealt with without adjourning the oral proceedings (A13 (3) RPCR).

Nevertheless, if by mistake a notification according to R116 CBE is issued, the Board of Appeal is bound by the date indicated in the quotation as regards the limit of the date of reply (T97 / 94).

Section 5.4. Presentation of several possible attacks on the inventive step

Opponents may exhibit multiple inventive step attacks using each document cited as the closest state of the art document.

In practice, after determining the "trueAs the most recent document of the state of the art, the EPO will only discuss attacks from this document.

Refusing to discuss other attacks is not a violation of the right to be heard because the problem-solution approach is properly applied (R13 / 13).

Section 5.5. Closing of the oral proceedings

5.5.1. Last modifications before decisions

If a patent is to be issued or maintained in a modified form, the division may adopt the text with the parties during the oral proceedings.

It is also possible for the division to give the applicant or holder a time limit (2 to 4 months in general) to provide an amended request. Otherwise, the patent will be revoked or the application rejected (Directives E-III 8.11).

In the absence of the holder, some opponents sought to revoke the request for non-compliance of the application with the amended claims. The Boards of Appeal state that they are not required to revoke on this ground and that remand is always possible (T985 / 11)

5.5.2. Decision

Decisions can be pronounced at the hearing (R111 (1) EPC or R15 (6) RPCR for the remedy) and then become effective (G12 / 91).

A meaning of this decision in writing will come later (R111 (1) EPC).

It is the date of this service which sets off the time limit for lodging appeals (A108 EPC and Directives E-III 9).

It is important to note that the decision must be signed by the members of the EPO who actually participated in the oral proceedings (T2175 / 16): if a change of composition occurs in the chamber or division, an oral procedure must be reconvened.

5.5.3. Minutes

A report is drawn up following the oral procedure (R124 (1) EPC) containing the essential points of the oral procedure.

If a statement has been made (eg witness, expert), the report is read to him (if he does not waive this right, R124 (2) EPC) and a statement is made that he approves or disapproves of it.

This statement is signed by the officer who drafted it and the chairman of the oral proceedings (R124 (3) EPC).

A copy of the minutes is sent to the parties (R124 (4) EPC).

Chapter 6. Public / non-public procedure

Section 6.1. Non public procedure

The procedure is non-public (A116 (3) EPC):

  • in front of the deposit section,
  • before the examination divisions,
  • before the legal division.

In addition, the court may decide that this procedure is not public (although it should normally be public) if it can present, in particular for a party, serious and unjustified disadvantages (A116 (4) EPC). This is particularly the case when there is discussion about the exclusion of certain parts of the public inspection (T1401 / 05).

Section 6.2. Public procedure

If the application has been published, this procedure is normally public (A116 (4) EPC):

  • before the boards of appeal;
  • before the Enlarged Board of Appeal;
  • before the opposition divisions.

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