Saturday, 9 December 2017

T 428/13 - Proving an oral disclosure

Not enough proof

This opponent tried to prove that Claim 1 of the main request had been orally disclosed.  The submitted proof included: the power point slides that were used in the presentation, an affidavit of the presenter, the colloquium report of the conference and the article on which the presentation was based (the latter two being published after the effective date). Unfortunately for the opponent it is not enough for the Board.
Reasons for the Decision 
3. Novelty
3.1 Novelty in view of D7 supported by D8 to D10
3.1.1 The oral disclosure D7 of Mr. Altena took place at the 57th Hardening Colloquium on 10. October 2001.
In the Affidavit D8, Mr. Altena describes what in his view has been presented at the conference by referring to Annex A1 (power point slides, which allegedly had been shown during the conference) and Annex A2 (representing preparation notes which allegedly reproduce the content of the talk held by Mr. Altena).
3.1.2 Concerning the content of an oral disclosure it is generally accepted case law, that a single declaration of the presenter of a lecture does not give sufficient proof of the content which has been disclosed orally or has been presented on slides prepared for the lecture (Case Law of the Boards of Appeal, Chapter I.C.3.2.2, see in particular T1212/97).
Following this generally accepted principle, the Affidavit of Mr. Altena (D8) on its own is not sufficient to give proof what had actually been disclosed orally when presenting the slides of Annex A1.
D9 and D10, which are a publication and a colloquium report on the same topic as the presentation D7, demonstrate that the content of the presentation of Mr. Altena was open to the public and that the presentation had taken place. However, these documents alone are not evidence of what had been disclosed orally. Furthermore, they are not prior art under Article 54(2) EPC themselves, since they have not been disclosed before the filing date of the contested patent.
Therefore it has not been demonstrated by the appellant to a sufficient standard what was orally made available to the public during the 57th Hardening Colloquium.
3.1.3 Thus, the Board concludes that it has not been shown that the subject-matter of claim 1 of the main request was orally made available at the conference in 2001.

This decision T 0428/13 (pdf) has European Case Law Identifier:  ECLI:EP:BA:2017:T042813.20170919. The file wrapper can be found here. Photo by Noupload obtained via PixaBay under a CC0 license (no changes made).

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

J 3/17 - Buggy monitoring system

A (Lego) bug...

In the present case, a PCT patent application was filed after expiry of the 12m priority period at the Chinese PCT receiving office by an Chinese agent acting as representative of the appellant.

The appellant filed a request for restoration of the right to priority with the European Patent Office as designated Office, which was refused by decision of the Receiving Section (whereas the request was submitted to and granted by the Chinese PCT receiving office under the 'unintentional' criterion).

The appellant now appeals before the EPO, and argues that 'all due care' has been taken.

Of interest in this case was that because of a bug that had up to then never been discovered, the electronic system which was used by the Chinese agent had given a reminder of the filing date only, not the priority deadline date. Unfortunately (for the appellant, but also for the interested reader), the appeal failed already on other reasons for not satisfying 'all due care', without going into detail on the implications of 'buggy' software wreaking havoc with otherwise carefully defined procedures.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

T 1332/12 - Admission of corrected translation of prior art in opposition appeal

The opposition division decided that the subject-matter of claim 1 of the main, first, second and third auxiliary requests lacked inventive step over the disclosure of document D7 (JP 07-131734 A) and the common general knowledge of the person skilled in the art (Articles 56 and 100(a) EPC). For the analysis of inventive step, the opposition division referred to document D7T, which was a JPO machine translation of document D7 into English. The patent proprietor (appellant) filed an appeal against this decision and requested that the decision be set aside. In the statement of grounds of appeal, it requested that the patent be maintained in amended form. It submitted arguments as to why the subject-matter of claim 1 of each of the requests met the requirements of Article 56 EPC. With a letter dated 12 October 2015, the appellant submitted a different translation of document D7 (D7JPO) because "the Japanese and the original and the previously translated prior art document D7T is not precise in many aspects". In a communication under Article 15(1) RPBA, annexed to the summons to oral proceedings, the board indicated that it tended to agree with the opposition division's finding that the then second and third auxiliary requests lacked inventive step. It also indicated that it had to be discussed whether translation D7JPO should be admitted into the appeal proceedings (Article 13(1) RPBA).

Monday, 27 November 2017

T 782/16 Can the content of a divisional be derived from an omnibus parent?

In this opposition appeal the Board had to assess if the opposed claims could be derived from the filed divisional and parent. In the Board's view, the "gold" standard for the assessment of Articles 123(2) and 76(1) EPC requires that the subject-matter of an amended claim (or of a claim of a divisional application) be based only on what the skilled person would directly and unambiguously derive from the application as originally filed (or from the earlier application; see G 2/10). For a correct application of this standard, a distinction needs to be made between subject-matter which is disclosed either implicitly or explicitly in the original (or earlier) application and therefore can be directly derived from it, and subject-matter which is the result of an intellectual process, in particular a complex one, carried out on what is disclosed. The Board concluded that the latter was the case.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

T 2406/16 - Reestablishment when appeal fee not paid

It's another one of those nightmare scenario's. A notice of appeal is filed but the appeal fee is not paid. 
The attorney signed a notice of appeal and instructed his assistant to file the notice and pay the fee as soon as the deposit account contains enough funds. The latter requires checking with the CFO that there are enough funds in the deposit account, and can take a few days. Unfortunately, the assistent accidentally removed the due date from the system when the notice is filed. This  should not have been done until the payment was made. The board did not view this as an isolated mistake and refused to reinstate the case. 

Friday, 10 November 2017

T 2002/13 - Extension of subject matter

In this opposition appeal, the proprietor intended to limit the claim 1 as granted as follows:

A method to detect the presence or absence of an MREJ type xi methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strain characterised as having within the right extremity of SCCmec the sequence of SEQ ID NOs 17, 18 or 19 the SEQ ID NO 17 comprising:
generation of SCCmec right extremity junction sequence data by
contacting a sample to be analyzed for the presence or absence of said MRSA strain, said MRSA strain including a Staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SSCCmec) element containing a mecA gene inserted into chromosomal DNA, thereby generating a polymorphic right extremity junction (MREJ) type xi sequence that comprises sequences from both the SCCmec element right extremity and chromosomal DNA adjoining said right extremity, with a first primer and a second primer, wherein said first and second primers are at least 10 nucleotides in length, and wherein said first primer hybridizes with said SCCmec element right extremity of an MREJ type xi sequence selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NOs: 17, 18 and 19 and complements thereof, and wherein said second primer hybridizes with a chromosomal sequence of S. aureus  and wherein each of said first and second primer hybridizes with said sequence of SEQ ID NO: 17 or complements thereof  to specifically generate an amplicon if such MRSA strain is present in said sample; and
detecting the presence or absence of said amplicon.

At first glance these amendments limit the claim. In particular, the board acknowledges that the definition of the second primer is narrower than its definition as granted. Nevertheless, the combination of features amount to extension of the conferred protection.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

T 514/14 - Respondent could have reacted to the raised objections well in advance to the oral proceedings

In this opposition appeal, the parties were summoned to oral proceedings. In a communication issued in preparation therefor, the Board drew the parties' attention to some issues likely to be addressed at the oral proceedings. The Board inter alia expressed concerns regarding the clarity of claim 1 held allowable by the Opposition Division and pointed out that compliance with Article 84 EPC might also become an issue with regard to the auxiliary requests. Concerning the issue of compliance with Article 123(3) EPC, the Board drew the parties' attention to a specific paragraph of the Case Law Book. The Respondent/proprietor commented on the points addressed in the Board's communication, and defended inter alia its position submitting that the amended claims of all the already pending requests were clear (Article 84 EPC) and complied with Article 123(3) EPC. It nevertheless filed three additional sets of amended claims as auxiliary requests 4 to 7. Oral proceedings before the Board were held. The debate focused on the compliance of the pending claims with Articles 84 EPC and 123(3) EPC. During the oral proceedings, the Respondent filed a further amended set of claims as auxiliary request 1bis, to be intercalated between auxiliary requests 1 and 2. The Appellant/opponent asked not to admit auxiliary request 1bis due to its late-filing.