a)
Requirements 

In accordance with the boards' case law (e.g. T 278/00 (OJ 2003, 546), T 861/02, T 897/03, T 276/04, T 1182/05, T 1309/05, T 1356/05, T 1360/05, T 1709/06, T 952/07, T 1612/07, T 1442/09, T 177/15 and T 180/10), a standard decision based "on the state of the file" which refers to one or several communications only meets the "reasoned" requirement of R. 68(2) EPC 1973 (now R. 111(2) EPC) if the board of appeal is not left to reconstruct the applicable reasons by piecing together various arguments from the file and if it leaves no doubt as to which claim version the arguments relate to (see also Guidelines C‑V, 15.2 – November 2018 version).

In T 963/02 the board held that a decision issued by way of EPO Form 2061 and referring to one or more earlier communications only met the criteria for a reasoned decision if the cited communication itself met those criteria as defined in T 897/03 and T 278/00 (see above), i.e. the reasons for the decision were clear (similarly T 1182/05).

In T 583/04 the board held that the decision by reference using a standard form is appropriate when the communication incorporated by reference contains a fully reasoned exposition of the examining division's objections to the current application text and refutation of any rebuttal by the applicant. This makes it transparent that the decision is being taken on the agreed text and that nothing is being said in the decision which has not already been communicated to the applicant with an opportunity to present comments, thus guaranteeing that the right to be heard is observed (Art. 113 EPC).

In J 18/16 the appealed decision merely referred to a preceding communication on deficiencies in the application, and the section of the form headed "Further comments on the remaining deficiency" gave no information on why the Receiving Section had considered the subsequently filed documents not to have corrected the deficiencies noted or to what extent those documents made amendments going beyond what would have been sufficient to correct them, thereby infringing R. 58, second sentence, EPC. That, the board held, breached R. 111(2) EPC. The board remitted the case to the department of first instance on account of a substantial procedural violation.

In T 353/11 the decision under appeal referred solely to a communication annexed to a summons to attend oral proceedings. The communication did no more than to identify the closest prior art and the distinguishing feature of the invention, indicate that it was "not clear" whether the examples of the application illustrated the distinguishing feature of the invention, state it would be examined whether or not the process was inventive, and invite the appellant to file a comparative example. It neither gave an explicit conclusion with respect to inventive step, nor any reasons as to why the claimed process was not inventive. Thus, the examining division did not issue a reasoned decision within the meaning of R. 111(2) EPC.

The board in T 1998/10 held that the use of the standard form could be considered appropriate for decisions on the state of the file in exceptionally plain cases. In the case at hand, the decision under appeal referred to a communication of the examining division, which in turn referred to the Written Opinion of the ISA. Although the board in would have preferred an independently, fully-reasoned, self-contained decision, it concluded that the objections leading to the refusal could be identified and understood from the references in an unambiguous manner and without undue guesswork.

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