Necessity of a timely response
Under the Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal (RPBA), which have been in force since January 1, 2020, it is the duty of the parties to present their submissions in the proceedings in such a timely manner that the Board of Appeal can already take them into account when drafting the summons. Insofar as a party cannot already submit a part of its submission in the statement of grounds of appeal, because it concerns the response to attacks or auxiliary requests, which were not already the subject of the contested decision, but were only submitted by the opposing party in the response to the appeal, a reply to this represents the means of choice for the party to submit its response in time. It is precisely for this reason that Art 15 Par 1 RPBA specifies that the Board of Appeal shall attempt to send the summons no earlier than two months after receipt of the reply to the notice of appeal. The argument that it is unreasonable to have to present cascades of lines of argumentation with regard to every conceivable assessment of the Board of Appeal is not valid. In inter partes appeal procedures, the parties are obliged to conduct the proceedings with due care and swiftly, for reasons of fairness towards the other party, but also in order to bring the proceedings to a conclusion within a reasonable period of time. Art 13 Par 2 RPBA sanctions this duty to promote the proceedings. The argument of the party that it is acceptable for the Board and also for the opposing side to be engaged in the discussion of a simple new fact in the oral proceedings disregards the influence on the further course of the proceedings. The first-time discussion of a line of attack in the oral proceedings may in fact lead to a situation in which the opposing side has to reconsider its line of defense for the first time in the oral proceedings and, if necessary, adapt it. This may lead to a significant delay in the proceedings and render a proper decision in the oral proceedings more difficult or impossible. (EPO Board of Appeal 9 February, 2022, T 2843/19).