Decision in case G 1/21
The Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office issued the order of its decision in case G 1/21 and ruled that oral proceedings before the Boards of Appeal can, during a period of general emergency impairing the parties’ possibilities to attend in-person oral proceedings at the EPO premises, be held by videoconference even without the consent of the parties.
Interestingly, the Enlarged Board did not address the question whether oral proceedings by videoconference may be held without the consent of the parties in the absence of a period of general emergency.
Likewise, the order does not consider whether oral proceedings by videoconference may be held without the consent of the parties in examination or opposition proceedings before the EPO’s departments of first instance.
We will have to wait for the reasoned decision to see whether these issues might be implicitly addressed at least to some extent. It will also be interesting to learn why the Enlarged Board of Appeal limited their ruling with respect to the original referred question.
However, common sense seems to have prevailed. Hopefully, users will retain their long standing right to attend an EPO oral proceedings in-person. More information here.