Parties to opposition proceedings 

The patent proprietor, the opponent(s) and, where applicable, the intervener(s) will be parties to the opposition proceedings. However, an opponent who has withdrawn his opposition or whose opposition has been rejected as inadmissible will remain a party to the proceedings only until the date of such withdrawal or the date on which the decision on rejection has become final. The same will apply in the case of interveners. Third parties who have presented observations concerning the patentability of the invention in respect of which an application has been filed are not parties to opposition proceedings (see E‑VI, 3).

Where the patent proprietors are not the same in respect of different designated contracting states, they are to be regarded as joint patent proprietors for the purposes of opposition proceedings (see D‑VII, 3.1, concerning the unity of the European patent).

Where a person provides evidence that in a contracting state, following a final decision, he has been entered in the patent register of that state instead of the previous patent proprietor, he is entitled on request to replace the previous patent proprietor in respect of that state. In this event, by derogation from Art. 118, the previous patent proprietor and the person making the request are not deemed to be joint patent proprietors unless both so request. The aim of this provision is to afford the new patent proprietor the opportunity of defending himself against the opposition as he sees fit (see D‑VII, 3.2, as regards the conduct of the opposition proceedings in such cases).

The Legal Division is responsible for decisions in respect of entries in the Register of European Patents (see the Decision of the President of the EPO dated 21 November 2013, OJ EPO 2013, 600).

It is to be noted that multiple oppositions which are not jointly filed by one or more persons initiate a single opposition proceedings (T 774/05; for joint oppositions, see D-I, 4).

When there are multiple opponents and/or proprietors as parties to a single opposition proceedings, it is normally appropriate to deal with all relevant issues (including e.g. admissibility of one of the oppositions, see D-IV, 5.5) when taking the final decision, e.g. during one oral proceedings (also see E-III, 6).

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