E‑X, 2.3 Requirements as to form - Guidelines for Examination
Requirements as to form

Decisions are to be produced in writing. The same applies to decisions delivered at the end of oral proceedings (see E‑II, 9).

No complete rules can be laid down about the form and content of decisions, which will depend on the requirements of each particular case.

The written decision will contain:

the names of the parties to the proceedings (applicant, proprietor, opponents) and, if applicable, their representatives;
the order, and, if necessary;
the facts and submissions;
the reasoning;
the communication of the possibility of appeal (Rule 111(2)); and
the signature(s) and the name(s) of the employee(s) responsible.

Rule 113(1)

If the decision is produced by the employee responsible using a computer, the EPO seal may replace the signature. If it is produced automatically by a computer the employee's name may also be dispensed with (Rule 113(2)). TheDecisions taken by the examining or opposition divisions have to adhere to the principles laid down in E-X, 1. Where a decision is produced by means of a computer, the file copy contains the names and the actual signature(s) of the employee(s) responsible.

If, exceptionally, one or more division members cannot sign the decision, e.g. owing to extended illness, only a division member who was present at the oral proceedings (preferably the chairman) may sign it on their behalf (see T 243/87). A written decision signed by someone who did not take part in the oral proceedings at which the decision was pronounced is not legally valid (see T 390/86).

The presentation of the facts and the submissions, the reasoning and the communication of the means of redress are generally omitted when a decision merely meets the requests of all the parties concerned; this applies in particular to the decision to grant, which is based on the documents that the applicant has approved (Rule 71(5)). The same applies when the patent is maintained in an amended form, because this is preceded by a final interlocutory decision pursuant to Art. 106(2) concerning the documents on which the maintenance of the patent is to be based (see D‑VI, 7.2.2). In individual cases, consideration may also be given to the reasoning of those decisions which merely meet the requests of the parties. If, for example, a number of reasons are invoked for a request for re-establishment, of which only one justifies re-establishment, a reasoned decision on re-establishment may be appropriate, in order to clarify the official action.

Even in those cases in which the decision contains no communication of the means of redress, an appeal can be filed if the decision is incorrect, e.g. if the grant was not made on the basis of the documents that the applicant had approved.


The order may be, for example, as follows:

"The European patent application ... is hereby refused pursuant to Art. 97(2) EPC.";

"The opposition to the European patent ... is hereby rejected."; or

"The request for re-establishment of rights is hereby rejected".

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