Notice from the European Patent Office dated 27 July 2021 concerning the resumption of proceedings following decision G 4/19 of the Enlarged Board of Appeal
1. On 10 February 2020, the President of the European Patent Office (EPO) decided to stay, ex officio, all proceedings before EPO examining and opposition divisions in which the decision depended entirely on the Enlarged Board of Appeal's decision on referral G 4/19 (see OJ EPO 2020, A20).
2. On 22 June 2021, the Enlarged Board of Appeal issued decision G 4/19, in which it endorsed the EPO's long-established practice for assessing double patenting. The Enlarged Board confirmed that a European patent application can be refused under Articles 97(2) and 125 EPC if it claims the same subject-matter as a European patent which has been granted to the same applicant and does not form part of the state of the art pursuant to Article 54(2) and (3) EPC. The application can be refused on that legal basis, irrespective of whether it (a) was filed on the same date as, or (b) is an earlier application or a divisional application (Article 76(1) EPC) in respect of, or (c) claims the same priority (Article 88 EPC) as the European patent application leading to the European patent already granted.
3. The President of the EPO has decided to lift the stay with effect from 23 June 2021. Affected proceedings will be gradually resumed. A communication regarding the resumption of proceedings will be issued in the cases concerned.