1. Applicability of the principle of the protection of legitimate expectations

The principle of the protection of legitimate expectations applies to all procedural actions – whether formal or informal – taken by EPO employees vis-à-vis parties to proceedings (T 160/92, OJ 1995, 35; see also T 343/95; T 460/95 of 16.7.1996; T 428/98, OJ 2001, 494). It applies to both ex parte and inter partes proceedings (T 923/95). The requirements in connection with the principle of good faith to be observed by the EPO are the same vis­à­vis all parties involved in proceedings before the EPO, be they applicants, patent proprietors or opponents (T 161/96, OJ 1999, 331, see also J 12/94). The principle of the protection of legitimate expectations also applies to acts performed by other authorities concerned in Euro-PCT proceedings during the international phase such as the US Patent Office acting as receiving Office or as International Preliminary Examining Authority (J 13/03). It applies also to the conduct of national authorities when dealing with European patent applications filed with them under Art. 75(1)(b) EPC (J 34/03).

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