Thursday, 9 January 2020

EPO: Correcting payment of wrong appeal fee

I am not a patent prosecutor - my involvement in the patent world usually starts only once the things have been granted - but if you do prosecute applications for European patents, here's a decision which ought to be important. If you pay the wrong appeal fee, Rule 139 allows you to correct an unintentional underpayment, notwithstanding that it looks as if should only be concerned with errors in documents (as made clear in case G001/12): and better still it has retroactive effect, so your appeal shouldn't be out of time.

This was case J 0008/19 (29 November 2019, published 9 January 2020), in which an appeal against refusal of a division application was filed a few minutes before the grant appeared in the Bulletin. The Legal Board of Appeal found that the law was clear and an application ceased to be pending on the day on which the mention of the grant was published - the date, not the precise time, was what mattered, which could produce some harsh reaults. It meant that even though the appeal was entertained it didn't succeed because the effect of rule that pendancy ends on the day of publication - in effect at 00:00 hours on that day, regardless of the time of actual publication - was clearly that the divisional had been filed too late.

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