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Proceedings Before the European Patent Office

A Practical Guide to Success in Opposition and Appeal, Second Edition

Marcus O. Müller and Cees A.M. Mulder

The second edition of this acclaimed and widely-used book has been thoroughly updated in light of, among others, the revised Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal, which entered into force in January 2020. It provides the first detailed understanding of these new rules and their influence on opposition and appeal proceedings. Dealing with all stages of proceedings before the European Patent Office, this book provides fresh insight into how best to act at each stage to successfully complete a case in opposition and appeal, detailing how opposition divisions and boards of appeal approach the cases before them.
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Table of contents

Marcus O. Müller and Cees A.M. Mulder

About the authors
Preface
Acknowledgements
List of abbreviations and acronyms
Tables of legislation and decisions
1. Introduction
2. Drafting and prosecution stage
2.1  Introduction to drafting and prosecution
2.2  How to avoid problems with priority in opposition and appeal
2.3  The impact of drafting styles on opposition and appeal
2.3.1 The necessity of creating fall-back positions
2.3.2 The risk of using ambiguous terms
2.3.3 The appropriate level of generality
2.3.4 Errors in drafting and their consequences in opposition and appeal
2.3.5 Optional or essential feature – to be decided at the drafting stage
2.4  Prosecution with an eye on opposition and appeal
2.5  Conclusion
3. Opposition stage
3.1  Introduction to opposition
3.2  How to avoid problems with admissibility
3.2.1 Legal basis
3.2.2 Non-remediable deficiencies
3.2.3 Remediable deficiencies
3.2.4 Further issues
3.3  Extent of opposition
3.4  How to attack/defend a patent (grounds for opposition)
3.4.1 General aspects
3.4.2 Lack of novelty (Article 100(a) EPC) – written disclosure
3.4.3 Lack of novelty (Article 100(a) EPC) – oral disclosure
3.4.4 Lack of novelty (Article 100(a) EPC) – public prior use
3.4.5 Lack of inventive step (Article 100(a) EPC)
3.4.6 Further grounds under Article 100(a) EPC
3.4.7 Lack of sufficiency of disclosure (Article 100(b) EPC)
3.4.8 Extension of subject-matter (Article 100(c) EPC)
3.4.9 Conclusion
3.5  How to argue in case of late filings
3.5.1 General rules applied by the opposition division
3.5.2 Admittance of late-filed grounds
3.5.3 Admittance of late-filed facts and evidence
3.5.4 Admittance of late-filed claim requests
3.5.5 Admittance of late-filed arguments
3.5.6 Relevance of the Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal
3.6  Amendment of the patent
3.6.1 Attack under Rule 80 EPC
3.6.2 Attack under Article 84 EPC
3.6.3 Attack under Article 123(3) EPC
3.6.4 Attack under Article 123(2) EPC
3.6.5 Further attacks against amendments
3.6.6 Conclusion
3.7  Oral proceedings
3.7.1 Introduction
3.7.2 Authorisations
3.7.3 Structure of oral proceedings
3.7.4 Practical aspects relevant to oral proceedings
3.7.5 Accompanying persons
3.7.6 Witnesses
3.7.7 Technical equipment
3.7.8 Absence during oral proceedings
3.7.9 Postponement of oral proceedings
3.8  Decisions in opposition
3.9  Continued opposition proceedings after appeal
3.10  Special situations
3.11  Third party observations
4. Appeal stage – inter partes appeals
4.1  Introduction to appeals
4.2  How to file an admissible appeal
4.2.1 Legal basis
4.2.2 Remediable deficiencies
4.2.3 Non-remediable deficiencies
4.3  Admittance of new submissions in the grounds of appeal and the response thereto (appeal phase 1)
4.3.1 General aspects
4.3.2 Appeal phase 1: amendments in a party’s appeal case
4.3.3 Appeal phase 1: justification of amendments
4.3.4 Appeal phase 1: criteria for admittance
4.3.5 Appeal phase 1: completeness of a party’s appeal case
4.3.6 Appeal phase 1: new grounds for opposition
4.3.7 Appeal phase 1: new requests under Article 12(4) RPBA
4.3.8 Appeal phase 1: new requests under Article 12(6) RPBA
4.3.9 Appeal phase 1: new requests as a reaction
4.3.10 Appeal phase 1: new facts, evidence or objections under Article 12(4) RPBA
4.3.11 Appeal phase 1: new facts, evidence or objections under Article 12(6) RPBA
4.3.12 Appeal phase 1: new facts, evidence or objections under Article 12(3) in conjunction with 12(5) RPBA
4.3.13 Appeal phase 1: new facts, evidence or objections as a reaction
4.4  Admittance of new submissions (appeal phase 2)
4.4.1 General aspects
4.4.2 Appeal phase 2: criteria for admittance
4.4.3 Appeal phase 2: new requests under Article 13(1) RPBA
4.4.4 Appeal phase 2: new requests as a reaction
4.4.5 Appeal phase 2: new facts, evidence and objections under Article 13(1) RPBA
4.5  Admittance of new submissions (appeal phase 3)
4.5.1 General aspects
4.5.2 Appeal phase 3: criteria for admittance
4.5.3 Appeal phase 3: new requests under Article 13(2) RPBA
4.5.4 Appeal phase 3: new facts, evidence and objections under Article 13(2) RPBA
4.6  Submissions not admitted by the opposition division
4.7  New arguments
4.8  Conclusion on admittance of new submissions
4.9  How to draft submissions in appeal proceedings – some practical advice
4.10  Specific aspects of oral proceedings before the boards
4.10.1 General aspects
4.10.2 Postponement of oral proceedings
4.10.3 Absence during oral proceedings
4.11  How to avoid problems with the prohibition of reformatio in peius
4.11.1 Introduction
4.11.2 The opponent as sole appellant
4.11.3 The proprietor as sole appellant
4.12  Decisions in appeals
4.13  Petition for review
4.13.1 Admissibility
4.13.2 Allowability
4.13.3 Procedure applied in petition cases
4.13.4 Examples of successful petitions
4.14  Reimbursement of the appeal fee
4.14.1 Reimbursement after interlocutory revision
4.14.2 Reimbursement in case of a substantial procedural violation
4.14.3 Reimbursement for further reasons
4.15  Termination of appeal proceedings
5. Appeal stage – ex parte appeals
6. Further issues
6.1  Apportionment of costs
6.2  Intervention
6.3  Acceleration of opposition and appeal proceedings
7. Conclusion
Annex – Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal
Keyword index