With only her retractable claws to count on, Merpel has been doing some counting. It seems to her that, when January comes around, there will be somewhere in the region of seven unfilled vacancies in the Legal Board, out of a total of 31, and plenty of other gaps in the team line-up. As she sees it:
[Note to puzzled readers: the three number code used above is redolent with meaning. The initial "3" refers to Directorate-General 3 of the EPO, which means the Boards of Appeal. The second and third digits represent a technical subject category and subcategory. Further information about the distribution of business between the Boards can be found here].
- Boards 3.2.3, 3.2.4 and 3.2.6 will each be lacking one technical member;
- Board 3.2.8 will be short of a chairperson;
- Board 3.3.1 and 3.2.2 will each be short of two technical members;
- Board 3.3.3 will be short of a chairperson;
- Board 3.3.9 short of one technical member;
- Boards 3.4.1 and 3.4.3 will each be missing one technical member;
- Board 3.4.2 will be chairless;
- Board 3.5.1 will be short of two technical members and a chairperson;
- Board 3.5.2 will be short of a chairperson;
- Board 3.5.4 will be short of just one technical member and a chairperson;
- Board 3.5.7 will be short of one technical member.
If Merpel's arithmetic is right, and assuming that no appointments are being made between now and the end of the year, this all means that there are seven legal, 14 technical and six chairs missing [not counting the one currently suspended member].
Merpel also hears a rumour that the number of Board of Appeal members is being culled since a large number of potential users of the EPO system will wish to opt for the untried and indeed currently non-operative Unified Patent Court revocation proceedings in preference for EPO oppositions. If this is the case -- and it would be surprising if it were -- it would be good for someone at the EPO to say so.
Readers' comments: the Kats' caveat:
In respect of all EPO-related blogposts, no comment will be posted if it is merely ascribed to "Anonymous". Any reader wishing to conceal his or her identity must adopt a pseudonym (which should not be obscene and should not be the name, or the mis-spelling of the name, of a real person). The pseudonym need not be an actual login name, as long as it is stated clearly at the beginning and/or end of the comment itself. This way, it will be easier for people who post later comments to identify and remember the earlier comment-poster and to recall the discussion string. Where, as has already happened on occasion, a string carries over from one blogpost to a later one on the same or a related subject, readers will be encouraged to use the same pseudonym for the sake of continuity.