Summons to oral proceedings 

All parties must be duly summoned to oral proceedings by notification. The summons must state the subject, and the date and time and the form of the oral proceedings.

The division sets a single date for the oral proceedings, i.e. one day or, in particular cases, more than one consecutive day. No pre-announcement of the date by phone or fax will be made. Oral proceedings may be set for any working day on which the EPO is open at the relevant site.

The summons will be accompanied by a note drawing attention to the points which need to be discussed, normally containing the provisional and non-binding opinion of the division. New documents may be cited in the annex to the summons (T 120/12), together with an explanation of their significance. However, the examiner examiners must carefully consider on a case-by-case basis whether citing a new document would introduce a new line of argument. At an early stage in the procedure, they he must consider sending a further communication before issuing any summons if a new document needs to be cited. For the additional requirements of the accompanying note if the summons is issued as the first action in examination, see C‑III, 5. The summons as well as the annexed communication can only be appealed together with the final decision unless a separate appeal is allowed (see E‑X, 3).

The summons will also fix a date up to which written submissions may be filed or amendments which meet the requirements of the EPC may be submitted (see also D‑VI, 3.2).

Rule 115(1) stipulates that at least two months' notice of the summons must be given unless the parties agree to a shorter period. Such agreement must be present in the public part of the file.

Harmonised with the standards applied in the written procedure (E‑VIII, 1.2), the practice outlined below is followed in setting the date of the oral proceedings to allow the parties sufficient time for preparing and filing submissions:

Any time limit (even shorter than two months) may be set provided that prior agreement has been reached with the parties. 
Normally, the summons is issued at least four months ahead of the day of the oral proceedings in examination and at least six months ahead of the day of the oral proceedings in opposition. 
Between two and four months' notice can be given without preliminary agreement only in specific circumstances, since the parties would have very limited time for filing submissions before the date fixed in the summons. Examples are where, in examination, the summons follows an extensive exchange between the first examiner and the applicant, or where the date of the oral proceedings is changed to a later date must be postponed (see also E‑III, 7.2).
Where the summons is issued as the first action in examination, six months are foreseen between the despatch of the summons and the date of the oral proceedings (see C‑III, 5).

The summons must state that if a party parties duly summoned does do not appear as summoned, or fail to connect to the oral proceeding by videoconference, as the case may be, the proceedings may continue without him them.

In opposition proceedings, where multiple oppositions have been filed, as a rule, even oral proceedings requested on the basis of totally different grounds for opposition are conducted as a single hearing in oral set of proceedings is scheduled,. In cases of multiple oppositions, all oral proceedings requested are dealt with in a single session, even if the oppositions are based on different grounds (see D‑I, 6). This means that all the parties must be summoned to attend them and may present comments on all grounds raised.

Quick Navigation