Parties with a legitimate interest may ask the boards of appeal to deal with their appeals rapidly. The boards can speed up an appeal as far as the procedural regulations allow.
Requests for accelerated processing must be submitted to the competent board either at the beginning of or during proceedings. They should contain reasons for the urgency together with relevant documents; no particular form is required.
This option is also available to the courts and competent authorities of the contracting states.
By way of example, the following circumstances could justify an appeal being dealt with particularly rapidly:
- where infringement proceedings have been brought or are envisaged
- where the decision of potential licensees of the patent in suit, that is the patent which is the subject of an appeal, hinges upon the outcome of the appeal proceedings
- where an opposition which is to be given accelerated processing (see Notice of the EPO dated 17 March 2008, OJ EPO 2008, 221) has been made the subject of an appeal.
By way of exception, the board may accelerate the procedure ex officio, for example in view of the disadvantages which could ensue from the suspensive effect of the appeal in the case in question.
Whether or not a particular case is regarded as urgent will depend on the nature of the case and not merely on whether accelerated processing is requested by the parties.
If, in view of the circumstances, the reasons given and the documents provided, the board decides to grant accelerated processing, this will involve in particular giving the appeal priority, and/or - with due respect for the parties' right to be heard and the fair administration of justice - adopting a strict framework for the procedure, for example concerning the time limits available before the final decision.