The EPO may reject a request for further oral proceedings before the same department where the parties and the subject of the proceedings are the same.[Art. 116(1); ]
Oral proceedings, particularly in opposition proceedings, are held to give the opportunity to finally discuss all matters raised and are normally terminated with a decision announced orally. The division is bound by that decision, once announced, and it cannot reopen the proceedings to allow further submissions to be filed or to take into account new facts (see the last two paragraphs of E‑VI, 2). Only if the division, in the oral proceedings, has not announced a decision, but has decided to continue the proceedings in writing, can further submissions be examined. Such may be the case e.g. when the examining division indicates that it intends to grant a patent (or to limit a granted patent in limitation proceedings) on the basis of the documents filed during the oral proceedings.
Thus, as a rule, in examination, limitation or opposition proceedings there will be no justification for further oral proceedings, for example where one of the parties wishes to re-examine from a different viewpoint a subject already discussed in the course of the proceedings, either before or during the original oral proceedings. However, if the oral proceedings are not terminated with a decision and after the oral proceedings the subject of the proceedings changes, for example where fresh evidence is admitted into the proceedings after the original oral proceedings, then further oral proceedings will generally have to be held if requested (see T 194/96).
Date retrieved: 30 December 2018