Saturday, 6 February 2010

T 1266/07 – Video Conference Refused, But …

The request for the oral proceedings (OPs) to be held by video conference was received some two weeks before the appointed date. This was too short a time for the board to deal with the legal and practical issues arising from the request, which was accordingly refused. [1.1]

This board accepts that in future it is conceivable that such a request might be allowed. For this to happen however it will be necessary that a general framework exist.

Inter alia the following issues will require to be resolved:

(a) Firstly, video conferencing before an examining division (ED) is explicitly regulated by the statement in the OJ EPO 2006, 585ff. There is however at present no corresponding provision for the boards of appeal; in particular, it is not mentioned in the Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal (RPBA).

(b) Secondly, OPs held before the ED are, in accordance with A 116(3), not public, whereas those before the boards of appeal are public, A 116(4). It will be necessary to ensure that the use of video conferencing is reconciled with the requirement that OPs before the boards be public. [1.2]

The legal certainty required of appeal proceedings would not be guaranteed if the present board set a precedent by permitting OPs by video conference before these issues are resolved. [1.3] 

To read the whole decision, click here.