Appellate function of the Boards
The Boards of Appeal are the first and final judicial instance in the procedures before the European Patent Office. They are independent of the Office in their decisions and are bound only by the EPC.
The Boards of Appeal provide an independent review of decisions taken by the Receiving Section, Examining Divisions, Opposition Divisions and the Legal Division of the European Patent Office.
In this role, the Boards of Appeal strive to
- deal with appeal cases both justly and efficiently,
- achieve the quality standards proper to a judicial body of final instance,
- apply their procedures in a consistent and predictable manner,
- maintain consistency in their jurisprudence,
- ensure that their decisions are easily accessible to the public.
The Boards of Appeal consist of:
- the Enlarged Board of Appeal,
- the Technical Boards of Appeal (28),
- the Legal Board of Appeal, and
- the Disciplinary Board of Appeal.
A comprehensive reform package concerning the Boards of Appeal was approved by the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation at its 148th meeting on 29 and 30 June 2016 and came into force on 1 July 2016. The aims of the reform are to strengthen the boards’ organisational and managerial autonomy and increase their efficiency.
The Boards and their registrars and support services are no longer integrated into the European Patent Office as Directorate-General 3.They now form a separate organisational unit headed by the President of the Boards of Appeal, who is hierarchically independent of the President of the EPO and responsible only to the Administrative Council.
The Boards of Appeal Committee (BOAC) is a newly-established subsidiary body of the Administrative Council, which acts as a link between the Administrative Council and the Boards of Appeal. The BOAC reports to the Administrative Council and provides guidance to the President of the Boards of Appeal on the management and organisation of the Boards at a general level, especially with regard to efficiency and independence.
Detailed statistics on proceedings before the Boards of Appeal are provided in the Annual Report of the Boards of Appeal.