In the event of the death or legal incapacity of an opponent, the opposition proceedings may be continued by the Opposition Division of its own motion, even without the participation of the heirs or legal representatives, for example if the legal proceedings in connection with the will or the appointment of a new legal representative would inordinately prolong the opposition proceedings. This provision will apply not only where only one opposition has been filed: it will also apply in cases where not all those who have filed opposition are deceased or legally incapacitated.
The Opposition Division should continue the proceedings if, for instance, the proprietor of the patent has submitted amendments to the patent in response to the notice of opposition (see T 560/90). The Opposition Division should also continue the proceedings if it considers that the stage reached in the opposition proceedings is such that they are likely to result in a limitation or revocation of the European patent without further assistance from the opponent(s) concerned and without the Opposition Division itself having to undertake extensive investigations (see T 197/88).
The proprietor of the patent and any other parties are to be informed that the proceedings will be continued. Otherwise the proceedings are closed and the decision to close the proceedings is communicated to the parties.