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Acceleration of appeals at the EPO may be impossible for anonymous parties

Parties to appeal proceedings before the European Patent Office (EPO) can accelerate the proceedings by submitting a reasoned request establishing a legitimate interest in the appeal being dealt with more rapidly.

The appellant-opponent in T 0872/13, Strawman Ltd, initially requested acceleration on the basis that the patent was “causing uncertainty and hampering investment and development decisions by interested parties”. The Board rejected this request on the basis that it was a general statement and not particularly related to a party to the proceedings.

The appellant-opponent then made a further request identifying CSL Limited as the real party behind the opposition and appeal and arguing that the continued development of a potentially infringing product by CSL Limited was dependent on the outcome of the appeal. The Board also rejected this request on the basis that the reasons for acceleration must relate to a party to the proceedings and hence any reasons relating to CSL Limited are not relevant as they are not a party to the proceedings.

Accordingly, it appears that a party may not be able to accelerate appeal proceedings at the EPO if they initiate the proceedings in the name of another party in order to conceal their identity, even if they subsequently identify themselves as the real party behind the appeal. This may be worth considering when advising clients regarding whether to initiate proceedings at the EPO anonymously.

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