Saturday 12 April 2014

Does The OHIM Board of Appeal have a Backlog?

All courts and tribunals have a period between the closure of the case (whether it be the end of the trial or the closure of a file of written submissions as at the OHIM Board of Appeals) and the date of the decision. In the case of the OHIM Boards of Appeal the published service standard is 8 months. As you can see from the results which were updated on 1 April 2014 with the 2013 4th quarter outcome, the inter partes Appeal  results rose from a dismal 58% in the third quarter to 80%. For ex-parte decisions they hit 96%.
A Backlog of paperless files can be denied

This would seem to suggest that any backlog has been dealt with, or does it?

These are figures for cases where decisions have been issued within 8 months - not exactly a short time compared with the UK IPO or Courts. Therefore a stunning result can be achieved by taking the recent cases and issuing quick decisions. There are a lot of simple decisions to be taken too, where the Appeal is ill-founded for want of grounds or some such. These decisions are commonly caused by an Appeal being filed to achieve a settlement, but they still generate quick and easy decisions to keep down the averages.

My perception is that there is a backlog is based on one observation of a decision awaited since the file was closed on 31 July 2012. The timeliness standards had given me the impression I was not alone, but apparently I am.

The President of the Boards Of Appeal who attended the Mediation event in London on 31 March 2014 told me there was no problem. The existence of a backlog was denied again by Christoph BARTOS,  member of the Board during the OHIM webinar on 9 April 2014 on Decisions of the Trimester.

ESearch reports that there are 884 appeals pending - these are the Opposition and Absolute Grounds Appeals. 280 filed in 2014, 503 are 2013 appeals but it also confirms that 60 of those appeals have 2012 Appeal Numbers but some of those are already with the CFI and some could be suspended so they are not all part of the non-existent backlog. There are 33 2011 Appeals pending and 7 from 2010 leaving only 1 earlier Appeal except there were 3 in 2009 so something does not add up. Ah, there can be more than one appeal number on a file. 

So what about Cancellations which don't get given an Appeal pending status but a Registration Cancellation pending status. There are 87 with 2014 Appeal Numbers, 239 from 2013, 117  from 2012,  96 from 2011, 37 from 2010, 20 from 2009,  23 from 2008, 14 from 2007.

Now this is perhaps not a backlog, because we cannot expect OHIM to take responsibility for the European Court and its delays or the desire of parties to suspend their cases. Nonetheless I suspect there might be a case to answer on Cancellations. These inter-partes issues are often more challenging legally but also more important commercially. Can you help me establish if there is a problem in the Cancellation corner?

1 comment:

  1. Naturally blogging has no effect but I can report that at least in my case they have just caught up