2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the European Patent Convention as well as 34 years of decisions of the boards of appeal. The first decision, J 2/78, was issued on 1 March 1979. It was followed in 1981 by 16 decisions of the technical boards of appeal. While in 1980 8 technical appeals were filed, in 2012 this number stood at 2659. Over the past 34 years, the boards of appeal have settled more than 34 000 cases. In addition more than 90 decisions or opinions of the Enlarged Board of Appeal have clarified legal points of fundamental importance in order to ensure uniform application of the law.
Since its introduction in 2007, the petition for review procedure has become an important part of the work of the Enlarged Board of Appeal, with about 20 decisions being issued per year.
The seventh edition of the "Case Law of the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Office" offers a comprehensive overview of the entire case law of the boards of appeal. It incorporates decisions written by the end of 2012 and also takes account of a number of important decisions issued at the beginning of 2013. To provide better guidance for the reader, the chapters' internal structure has been revised or refined and, where appropriate, introductions summarising the most important decisions have been added.
The purpose of this book is to help anyone concerned with European patent law to identify the decisions they need. Nevertheless, no summary, however careful, can replace study of the actual decision. All of the decisions handed down since 1979 can be consulted in full and free of charge on the EPO website (www.epo.org).
The book is complemented by the regular "Board of Appeal Case Law" Special Editions of the EPO Official Journal, which provide useful recent updates of the boards' case law.
I would like to thank the members of our Legal Research Service, who revised and harmonised the text of this edition. My thanks also go to the EPO Language Service, without whose co-operation and hard work simultaneous publication in the three official languages would not have been possible. Lastly, I wish to thank all the other EPO staff who have helped produce the present publication.
Wim van der Eijk
Chairman of the Enlarged Board of Appeal
Vice-President Directorate-General 3