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Guidelines for Examination

 
 

6. Summons to oral proceedings

All parties must be duly summoned to oral proceedings by notification. The summons must state the subject and the date and time of the oral proceedings.

The Division should set a single date for the oral proceedings, i.e. one day or, in particular cases, more than one consecutive days. No pre-announcement of the date by phone or fax will be made.

The summons will alsobe accompanied by a note drawing attention to the points which need to be discussed, will normally contain containing the provisional and non-binding opinion of the Division. andThe summons will also fix a date up to which written submissions may be filed or amendments which meet the requirements of the EPC may be submitted (see also D‑VI, 3.2).

Rule 115(1) stipulates that Atat least two months' notice of the summons must be given unless the parties agree to a shorter period.

Harmonised with the standards applied in the written procedure (E‑VII, 1.2), the practice outlined below should be followed in setting the date of the oral proceedings to allow the parties sufficient time for preparing and filing submissions:

(i)
Any time limit (even shorter than two months) may be set provided that prior agreement has been reached with the parties.
(ii)
Normally, the summons should be issued at least four months ahead of the day of the oral proceedings.
(iii)
Between two and four months’ notice can be given without preliminary agreement only in specific circumstances, since the parties would have very limited time for filing submissions before the date fixed in the summons. Examples are where, in examination, the summons follows an extensive exchange between the first examiner and the applicant, or where the oral proceedings must be postponed (see also E‑II, 7.2).
(iv)
A longer time limit may be set where appropriate, e.g. where it is clear that in the circumstances of the specific case a time limit of four to five months cannot be adhered to or where the division is facing problems finding a suitable room.

The summons must state that if a party duly summoned does not appear as summoned, the proceedings may continue without him.

In opposition proceedings as a rule, even oral proceedings requested on the basis of totally different grounds for opposition should be conducted as a single set of proceedings.

In cases of multiple oppositions, all oral proceedings requested should be dealt with in a single session, even if the oppositions are based on different grounds. This means that all the parties must be summoned to attend them and may present comments on all grounds raised.