When dealing with an allegation that an object or process has been used in such a way that it is comprised in the state of the art, the Opposition Division will have to determine the following details:
On the basis of the submissions and the evidence already submitted, e.g. documents confirming sale, or affidavits related to the prior use, the Opposition Division will first establish the relevance of the alleged prior use. If on the basis of this assessment it is of the opinion that the prior use is sufficiently substantiated and relevant, it may decide on the opposition using the submissions and the evidence, if the patentee does not contest the prior use. If the patentee does contest it or certain circumstances of it, the Division will need to take further evidence, if offered (e.g. hearing witnesses or performing an inspection) for those facts which are relevant to the case and which cannot yet be considered proven on the basis of the evidence already submitted. Evidence is always taken under participation of the parties, normally in oral proceedings. For details concerning means of evidence see E-III, 1.2.