Changes to EPO appeal proceedings include new timeliness objective for settlement
Jakob Pade Frederiksen of Inspicos summarises revisions to the Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal on the cut-off point for appeal case amendments, the issuance of preliminary opinions, and the announcement of decisions
The Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal (RPBA) of the EPO have been amended with effect from January 1 2024 with a view to enhancing the timeliness objective of appeal proceedings (90% of cases to be settled within 24 months by the end of 2025).
Article 13(2) of the RPBA, establishing a cut-off point for amendments to a party’s appeal case, has been changed to set out that any amendment to a party's case shall, in principle, not be taken into account if the amendment is made after notification of the board of appeal’s preliminary opinion issued under Article 15(1) of the RPBA. Previously, the cut-off point was the date of notification of the summons to oral proceedings before a board of appeal.
At the same time, Article 15(1) of the RPBA has been amended to set out that, in inter partes cases, the board of appeal’s preliminary opinion shall not be issued any earlier than one month after receipt of the reply, or replies, to the appeal(s). In combination with the above-mentioned amendment to Article 13(2) of the RPBA, the change to Article 15(1) of the RPBA establishes a one-month period for parties to file rejoinders in appeal cases where a change to a party’s appeal case is introduced with the rejoinder.
Furthermore, a change has been made to Article 15(9) of the RPBA dealing with the obligations of the boards of appeal in the rarely occurring event that a decision is not announced orally at oral proceedings and cannot be despatched within three months after the closure of the oral proceedings.
An initially envisaged amendment to reduce the parties’ time limit for lodging a reply to the appeal(s) from four to two months has not been adopted.