The question whether a request for oral proceedings has been made must be decided on the individual facts of each case. If there is the slightest doubt, clarification should be sought from the party concerned (T 19/87; OJ 1988, 268; T 283/88; T 344/88; T 668/89; T 494/90; T 872/90; T 870/93; T 417/00; T 1829/10; T 2373/11; T 2557/12).
If an EPO department has any doubt as to whether a party has requested oral proceedings (e.g. if the request is for a "hearing"), it must clarify the matter in order to avoid committing a substantial procedural violation (T 2373/11).
Nevertheless, in T 528/96, the board explained that, although the opposition division might reasonably have been expected to query whether such a request was in fact intended, the fact that it failed to do so did not constitute a procedural violation, since the onus to make a clear request was on the party itself (see also T 26/07). The board in T 1606/07 held that if the applicant requested an "interview" but in fact later alleged that his intention was to request oral proceedings, there would be no need for the examining division to clarify the request since the request was unambiguous (see also T 1976/08).
Date retrieved: 30 December 2018