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Tuesday, 12 June 2012

No more Legal Advice from the EPO

In 1979, the EPO started an occasional column in the Official Journal entitled “Legal Advice from the EPO”. The first instalment dealt with the practice of refunding of the examination fee where the application was terminated before examination commenced. The purpose of the column was explained as follows:
In this column replies are published to enquiries of general interest. In line with the informative purpose suggested by the title of this column the intention is to give prominence to formal matters of procedure. The legal information supplied therein is in no way binding on the competent departments of the European Patent Office, especially the Boards of Appeal and the Enlarged Board of Appeal respectively.
Arnie, not having heard the news, continues
to struggle with Legal Advice No. 5/93 "Calculation
of Aggregate Time Limits"
Despite that disclaimer, the “Legal Advice” notices became an integral part of the operation of the Office and for candidates studying for the exams to become a European Patent Attorney, they were required knowledge. In all, nineteen notices (not including revisions) issued over the years, but since 1999 there have been no brand new notices.

Now, the President of the EPO has cancelled all of the Legal Advice notices, on the grounds that their content now appears in the Guidelines for Examination, where it had not already been made redundant by changes to law and practice.

The details are as follows:
Article 1
Cancellation of Legal Advice
All Legal Advice notices shall be cancelled. Particular reference is made to:
- No. 4/80 (OJ EPO 1980, 48 - no longer relevant)
- No. 8/80 (OJ EPO 1981, 6 - incorporated in the Guidelines for Examination)
- No. 11/82 (OJ EPO 1982, 57 - incorporated in the Guidelines for Examination)
- No. 13/82 (OJ EPO 1982, 196 - no longer relevant)
- No. 3/85 (OJ EPO 1985, 347 - incorporated in the Guidelines for Examination)
- No. 16/85 (OJ EPO 1985, 141 - incorporated in the Guidelines for Examination)
- No. 17/90 (OJ EPO 1990, 260 - incorporated in the Guidelines for Examination)
- No. 6/91 rev. (OJ EPO 1991, 573 - incorporated in the Guidelines for Examination)
- No. 10/92 rev. (OJ EPO 1992, 662 - no longer relevant)
- No. 5/93 (OJ EPO 1993, 229 - incorporated in the Guidelines for Examination)
- No. 19/99 (OJ EPO 1999, 296 - incorporated in the Guidelines for Examination)
- No. 15/05 rev. 2 (OJ EPO 2005, 357 - incorporated in the Guidelines for Examination) 
Article 2
Entry into force
This decision shall enter into force on 20 June 2012. 

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