European Patent Office

Enlarged Board of Appeals of the European Patent Office strengthens the parties’ rights during oral proceedings

Tilman Pfrang,  Patent Attorney, Dipl.-Phys., Master of Laws (LL.M.)

On October 28, 2021, the Enlarged Board of Appeals released the full text of the Decision G1/21 that concerns the admissibility of oral proceedings via video conference against the expressed will of the parties.

The European Patent Office has, starting with the travel restrictions after the outbreak of the corona virus in Europe, initiated a pilot program to hold oral proceedings in examination and opposition proceedings as video conference. Moreover, the rules of procedure of the Board of Appeals were amended and allow to hold oral proceedings in Appeal proceedings via video conference at the discretion of the deciding Board of Appeal. Thus, the rights of the parties of the proceedings were restricted. Shortly after the implementation of the new rules, the legality of the new rules was questioned by a referral to the Enlarged Board of Appeals, the highest instance at the European Patent Office.

Meissner Bolte firmly believes in the European Patent framework as laid out in the EPC. Moreover, we are determined to defend the rights of all parties to the proceedings at the EPO. Meissner Bolte therefore filed an amicus curiae to the case (found here), highlighting the importance of fair proceedings and the rights of the parties during such proceedings.

The decision picks up important aspects highlighted by our amicus curiae that was also made part of the proceedings by the parties involved. While the present decision is formally restricted to appeal proceedings, it will most likely have influence on the first instance proceedings as well. The full decision can be accessed here.