2.4. Information provided by telephone

In T 160/92 (OJ 1995, 35) the board did not deny that the principle of legitimate expectations should govern all the actions of EPO employees towards parties to the proceedings, including telephone conversations which were not provided for in the EPC and did not, as such, form part of the formal procedure before the EPO. However, since telephone conversations did not form part of the said formal procedure, the board did not consider it necessary to conduct a detailed investigation seeking to clear up what had been said in the relevant telephone conversations, the sequence of procedurally relevant facts having been clearly established in the file.

In T 428/98 (OJ 2001, 494) the board held that an appellant might rely on information which the board's registrar could be proved to have provided by telephone concerning the method for calculating a time limit the appellant had to observe before the board if the point of law on which that information was based had at that time not yet been clarified in the case law of the boards of appeal.

In T 1785/15 the appellant had been led to believe in a telephone conversation with a formalities officer that an appeal against the decision to grant would be possible. The board held that the appeal was inadmissible. Suggesting a legal remedy where there was none was at best misleading. The board considered it was likely that the applicant had filed the appeal based on incorrect advice from the Office. The applicant thereby had at least a legitimate expectation that the appeal would be found admissible and examined as to its substance, which led the board to order the reimbursement of the appeal fee.

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