3.3. Signatures on a decision under Rule 113 EPC

Under R. 113 EPC EPO decisions must be signed by, and state the name of, the employee responsible. Under R. 113(2) EPC a seal may replace the signature when a decision is produced using a computer. The requirements for board decisions are set out in R. 102 EPC.

In J 16/17 the board held that the requirement laid down in R. 113(1) EPC, according to which decisions from the European Patent Office must be signed by and state the name of the employee responsible, is not just a mere formality but an essential procedural step in the decision-taking process. The name and the signature serve to identify the decision's authors and express that they unconditionally assume responsibility for its content. This requirement is aimed at preventing arbitrariness and abuse and ensuring that it can be verified that the competent body has taken the decision. It therefore constitutes an embodiment of the rule of law.

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