EPO: New referrals to the Enlarged Board of Appeal
Two issues have arisen recently causing the Technical Boards of Appeal to refer questions to the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA).
At oral proceedings on February 7 in respect of case T 318/14, the competent Board of Appeal referred questions relating to double patenting to the EBA. More specifically, the EBA is to consider if a European patent application can be refused if it claims the same subject matter as a European patent granted to the same applicant where the granted patent does not form part of the state of the art. In the affirmative, the EBA is further asked what the conditions would be for such a refusal, and if different conditions would have to be applied where the application is (a) filed on the same date as the already granted patent, or (b) a divisional of the parent, or (c) claims priority from that application upon which the parent was granted. Finally, in the case of point (c) above, the EBA is asked to consider if an applicant has a legitimate interest in the grant of the subsequent European patent application in view of the fact that the term of the patent is calculated on the basis of the filing date and not the priority date.
Further, by decision T 831/17 of February 25, an Appeal Board referred questions relating to (1) the right for oral proceedings, (2) a third party's possible right to appeal, and (3) the venue of oral proceedings in appeal. In relation to the third issue, in particular the EBA is to consider if the president or the Administrative Council of the EPO had the powers to move the Boards of Appeals' premises to Munich suburb Haar in 2017. In late 2016 the chairmen of the Boards of Appeal of the EPO adopted a resolution objecting to the relocation of the Boards of Appeal to Haar. At that time the issue appeared to be of a purely political nature, but now the matter is clearly becoming a legal one.
Jakob Pade Frederiksen