T 2377/19 23-08-2021
Admissibility of appeal - missing statement of grounds
Request for oral proceedings - clearly inadmissible appeal
I. The appeal is directed against the decision of the opposition division posted on 2 August 2019 rejecting the appellant's opposition.
II. The appellant filed a notice of appeal on 20 August 2019 and paid the appeal fee on the same day. They requested that the decision under appeal be set aside. Furthermore, they requested oral proceedings should their request not be granted.
III. By communication of 17 January 2020, receipt of which was acknowledged by the appellant on 22 January 2020, the Registry of the Board informed the appellant that it appeared from the file that the written statement of grounds of appeal had not been filed, and that it was therefore to be expected that the appeal would be rejected as inadmissible pursuant to Article 108, third sentence, EPC in conjunction with Rule 101(1) EPC. The appellant was informed that any observations had to be filed within two months of notification of the communication.
IV. No reply was received.
1. No written statement of grounds of appeal was filed within the time limit provided by Article 108, third sentence, EPC in conjunction with Rule 126(2) EPC. In addition, neither the notice of appeal nor any other document filed contains anything that could be regarded as a statement of grounds pursuant to Article 108 EPC and Rule 99(2) EPC.
2. Request for oral proceedings
2.1 The appellant requested oral proceedings should their request not be granted, i.e. in the case that the appeal would be dismissed. In the absence of any submission that could be regarded as a statement of grounds of appeal the issue of dismissal of the appeal was not a subject of the appeal proceedings. There was no request for oral proceedings in the case of a decision concerning the admissibility of the appeal.
2.2 Despite the absolute nature of the right to oral proceedings under Article 116 EPC, the board concluded that oral proceedings were not required in the present circumstances. The board notes that the appellant did not file any observations in reply to the communication of 17 January 2020. In particular, the appellant did not contest the finding there that no statement of grounds of appeal had been received. Therefore, holding oral proceedings would have served no other purpose than confirming the (undisputed) preliminary finding that no statement of grounds of appeal had been filed, and announcing the decision afterwards. There was no contentious matter on which the appellant had to be heard according to Article 113(1) EPC. Oral proceedings would thus have had no legitimate aim. The situation is therefore comparable to the "clearly inadmissible appeals" considered in decisions G 1/97 and G 2/19. (cf. T 1573/20, point 5 of the reasons). Thus no oral proceedings had to be held.
3. Therefore, the appeal has to be rejected as inadmissible (Rule 101(1) EPC).
For these reasons it is decided that:
The appeal is rejected as inadmissible.