Decisions which do not terminate proceedings – interlocutory decisions 

A decision that does not terminate the proceedings as regards one of the parties is termed an interlocutory decision. An interlocutory decision can only be appealed together with the final decision, unless it allows separate appeal.

The competent department will use its discretion as to the need for an interlocutory decision (see, however, D‑VI, 7.2.2 with respect to the interlocutory decision for maintenance of a patent in amended form in opposition proceedings). To avoid fragmentation of the proceedings, such decisions will be the exception rather than the rule and will be given only if the duration or cost of the proceedings as a whole is thereby reduced. The interests of the parties will also be borne in mind as appropriate.

In the normal course, an interlocutory decision will be contemplated only for the purpose of ruling that separate appeal may be made, as only in this way can a decision be obtained on a preliminary point before the final decision terminating the proceedings is reached. (The proceedings must be suspended until the decision has become final.) It is especially important to allow separate appeal where the continuation of the proceedings depends on a preliminary ruling on a fundamental point of law, e.g. where different boards of appeal have given different rulings or conflicting decisions have been given by different examining or opposition divisions and no decision on appeal has been given in the matter.

Interlocutory decisions must state the reasons on which they are taken (see E‑X, 1.3.3).

If it is decided not to allow separate appeal, the reasons for this ruling may be given in the final decision instead.

A ruling to allow a separate appeal must be part of the order of the decision (E‑X, 1.3.1) (T 756/14).

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