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Case Law of the Boards of Appeal

 
 
5.1. European patent application

The decisions referred to below concern the application of the EPC 1973, according to which an application could be filed in an official EPO language (Art. 14(1) EPC 1973) or, by persons benefiting from the "language privilege", in an official language of a contracting state other than English, French or German (Art. 14(2) EPC 1973).

According to J 4/88 (OJ 1989, 483, see headnote), for the purposes of Art. 14(2) EPC 1973 and R. 6(3) EPC 1973 it was sufficient if the description and claims were filed in an official language of a contracting state other than English, French or German; it was not significant for this purpose that other parts of the European patent application were filed in one of the official languages of the EPO only (further to J 7/80, OJ 1981, 137 – see point 2 above). If the applicant availed himself of the option provided in Art. 14(2) EPC 1973 both the filing fee and the examination fee were reduced (R. 6(3) EPC 1973).

In J 15/98 (OJ 2001, 183) the board decided that, where a patent application was filed in one of the languages referred to in Art. 14 EPC 1973 (here Spanish), a date of filing was to be attributed under Art. 80 EPC 1973, irrespective of the fact that the applicant had neither its residence nor principal place of business in a contracting state nor was a national of a contracting state, provided that all the other requirements of Art. 80 EPC 1973 were satisfied. The board in J 6/05 did not concur with this view. According to this decision, until the revised EPC 2000 entered into force, an application filed in an official language of a contracting state other than English, French or German, e.g. in Finnish, did not produce the result provided for in Art. 80 EPC 1973, i.e. no date of filing was attributed, if the other conditions provided for in Art. 14(2) EPC 1973, namely the applicant having its residence or principal place of business within the territory or being a national of that (same) contracting state (here, Finland), were not fulfilled (see also J 9/01).