T 0525/94 (Inadmissible appeal/BSG) 17-06-1998
Ferroelectric chiral smectic liquid crystal composition and light switching element
BSG Technische Beratungs-Gesellschaft mbH, Esslingen
I. Both appeals contested the interlocutory decision of the Opposition Division dated 26 April 1994 concerning maintenance of the European patent No. 0 206 228 in amended form.
II. In a letter dated 19 February 1998, the Respondent (Patentee) submitted that Appellant 02 (Opponent 02) no longer existed, as the company had been removed from the register. The result of a search was attached showing the following entry in the commercial register of Esslingen a.N.:
"22.11.1996: BSG Technische Beratungsgesellschaft mbH in Liquidation (=i.L.), Essligen a.N. Die Liquidation ist beendet. Die Firma ist erloschen."
The Respondent requested that this appeal be rejected as inadmissible.
III. In a communication dated 9 March 1998, the Board invited Appellant 02 to establish that it was still a legal person.
IV. By letter dated 18 March 1998, Appellant 01 (Opponent 01), withdrew its appeal.
V. In a further communication dated 20 March 1998, the parties were informed that, considering the Respondent's submissions and Appellant 02's failure to establish that it was still a legal person, the Board had to assume that Appellant 02 could no longer be a party to the proceedings.
1. From the Respondent's submissions it appears that Appellant 02 is no longer a legal person. These submissions have not been contested and the Board has no reason to question them. Only a natural or legal person can be a party to opposition proceedings (Article 99(1) EPC; Lunzer/Singer, The European Patent Convention, London 1995, 99.02). This applies also to the opposition proceedings at the appeal stage since Article 107, first sentence, EPC does not provide for different requirements in this respect (Rule 66(1) EPC). Therefore, Appellant 02 can no longer be a party to the proceedings and its appeal has become inadmissible.
2. The remaining appeal filed by Appellant 01 has been withdrawn. If the sole appeal is withdrawn opposition proceedings are terminated in respect of the substantive issues settled by the decision of the Opposition Division (G 8/91, OJ EPO 1993, 346).
For these reasons it is decided that:
1. The appeal filed by Appellant 02 is rejected as inadmissible.
2. The appeal proceedings are terminated.