Judgment No. 3694
1. The case is sent back to the EPO so that the Appeals Committee, composed in accordance with the applicable rules, may examine the appeal.
2. The claim for moral damages is dismissed.
3. The question of costs is reserved.
The complainant impugns the decision to reject his appeal against the new Internal Instructions on the patent granting procedure, contending inter alia that the Appeals Committee was improperly composed.
complaint allowed; internal appeals body; case sent back to organisation
As to the complainant’s request for oral proceedings, the Tribunal notes that the parties have presented their case extensively and comprehensively in their written submissions, which are sufficient to enable the Tribunal to reach a reasoned and informed decision on the only issue that must be determined at this stage. The request for oral proceedings is therefore rejected.
The Tribunal notes that none of the cases cited by the Appeals Committee dealt with the composition of an internal appeal body. It also observes that considering the quasi-judicial functions of the Appeals Committee, its composition is fundamental and changing it changes the body itself. While it is true that the fundamental functions of that body must not be paralysed, it is also true that the body itself cannot be changed through a changed composition. The balance sought to be achieved by the composition of this body, which includes members appointed by the Administration and the staff representation, is a fundamental guarantee of its impartiality. That balanced composition is an essential feature underpinning its existence. Without it, it is not the Appeals Committee. The case will therefore be sent back to the EPO so that the Appeals Committee, composed in accordance with the applicable rules, may examine the appeal.
internal appeals body; case sent back to organisation