3. Notification to third parties

In T 261/07 the decision to revoke the patent was delivered (by registered letter with advice of delivery) to a person who was not an employee of the patentee (to whom the notification was addressed), but of a company that received letters on behalf of the patentee. No acknowledgement of receipt was on file for the patentee, who claimed never to have received the decision. Following T 172/04 and T 743/05, the board held that for reasons of legal certainty, delivery to the addressee is effected once a person authorised by the addressee has received the letter. In T 1535/10 too, the board held that, where the recipient did not operate his own mail office and instead made use of an external mail office, he had to accept that the external office would be treated as if it were his own in matters relating to the delivery of communications subject to deadlines. Any delay in forwarding such communications on the part of the external office would thus be attributed to the recipient's sphere of risk.

In J 35/97, a communication was handed to a third party not authorised by the appellant to accept it. The said party was in the addressee's business premises, but not an employee. In the board's view, that meant that notification under Section 12(1) and (2) RPCPS had not occurred. Nor did the party qualify under any of the categories of "substitute addressee". There was also no evidence that the appellant had ever seen the communication. The board therefore found the EPO had not shown notification to have been properly effected.

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