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How to read decisions ...

Subtitled: "When preparing for the European Qualifying Examination"

This article relates mainly to decisions from the Technical Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office (the "T" decisions) yet probably applies to other decisions as well. The task of knowing and learning the Articles and Rules of the EPC is already quite time consuming so you may find it helpful to try the way of reading decisions further outlined below. I used this method myself during my preparation and still use it for the purpose of this Blog.

1. Browse through the front page to see what the decision is about; Relevant legal provisions, keywords, catchword, etc.

2. Determine which kind of decision is appealed (Examining Division, Opposition Division) and find out who is who. This can be found on the next one or two pages.

3. For the time being, skip the "Summary of Facts and Submissions" and go directly to the "Reasons".

4. Start reading from the "Reasons" yet don't try to understand all the "case specific" details unless they are necessary for understanding the case, which is not always obvious by the way. Normally I just skip all the details about the case until the Board summarises and concludes on a certain aspect. From reading the conclusion it usually becomes apparent if further reading of the details is required or not (at this point you may need to go back to the "Summary of Facts and Submissions").

Tip: When legal provisions are referred to, always read these provisions (again). This will help you in getting the EPC "in your system".

5. Read through the "Reasons" for each issue. Make notes where necessary and don't forget to have a yellow marker around. Be alert when the Board reasons "beyond" the specific subject matter of the case. This is often where the Board either may create new case law or summarise established case law.

6. Scan the "Order"

That's it !

Depending on the case, the number of issues to be dealt and your experience with reading decisions this process can take anywhere from 5 - 60 minutes.

The question that may arise is whether you have to read a lot of decisions in preparing for the EQE. I don't have the definitive answer to that, yet I do advise you to read at least a few (whatever that means). Of course the EPO case law book and many other resources provide overviews and summaries of (established) case law, all of which can be used. I personally did not find the case law book very suitable for studying and used "Visser" and (to a lesser extent) "Hoekstra" as my main sources. I have not seen/tried any other sources by the way ...

Hopefully in addition to what is already out there you can use the case law summaries I post on this Blog every now and then. Likewise the French "European Patent Case Law Blog" provides summaries and discussion of the Boards of Appeal case law.

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  1. There is one other caselaw book which I have only seen on its homepage, but which looks promising- http://www.key2epc.com/. (No affiliation). Have you any comment om it?

  2. I'm sorry, I don't know this book.

  3. The "european patent caselaw" blog is actually in French language but an automatic translation is available :



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