13 March 2018 – EPO Case Law – case T 0018/18 – Decisions of the EPO must be reasoned: it is not sufficient to only refer to the arguments put forward by a party to the proceedings

According to Rule 111(2) EPC decisions of the European Patent Office which are open to appeal shall be reasoned. The Board of Appeal pointed out that the purpose of this requirement is to enable the party or parties and, if an appeal is filed, the Board of Appeal to examine whether a decision taken by a department of first instance was justified or not. It is the established case law of the Boards of Appeal that, in order for a decision to be reasoned, it must contain, in logical sequence, those arguments which justify the decision. The conclusion drawn from the facts and evidence must be made clear. Therefore, all the facts, evidence and arguments which are essential to the decision must be discussed in detail.

The appeal concerned an opposition decision stating thatthe opposition division agrees with the analysis of the opponent. Claims 1 and 10 of the main request thus introduce subject-matter which extends beyond the content of the application as filed. Hence, the main request as a whole is not allowable”.

The Board of Appeal disputed such statement, holding that it remained entirely obscure why the opposition division reached these conclusions and, in particular, for what reason the opposition division could not follow the arguments of the appellant-proprietor. A reasoning for its conclusion, in the form of a logical sequence of arguments, taking into account the facts, evidence and arguments essential for reaching it, dealing especially also with those of the party negatively affected by this conclusion, here the appellant-proprietor, have not been given.

Similarly, the opposition decision stated the conclusion of the opposition division with the sentence: “The opposition division could not follow the arguments of the opponent and agreed on the other hand with the arguments put forward by the proprietor”.

Again, the Board of Appeal pointed out that such statement did not constitute adequate reasoning.

Also, the Board held that the failure to provide adequate reasoning in the decision in accordance with Rule 111(2) EPC amounted to a substantial procedural violation.

see full decision