The EPO Enlarged Board of Appeal decides on clarity objections during opposition proceedings

In a decision of March 24, 2015 (G 0003/14), the Enlarged Board of Appeal clarified under which conditions clarity objections (Art. 84 EPC) can be raised in opposition proceedings. An alleged lack of clarity is not a ground of opposition but, amendments made to a claim during opposition may allow clarity objections. In the past, some Boards of Appeal have rendered diverging decisions concerning the situation when a granted independent claim was combined with a granted sub-claim. A so-called conventional approach said that such combinations do not open the door for clarity objections. Now, the Enlarged Board of Appeal has acknowledged this conventional approach and decided: “In considering whether, for the purpose of Article 101(3) EPC, a patent as amended meets the requirements of the EPC, the claim of the patent may be examined for compliance with the requirement of Article 84 EPC only when, and then only to the extent that the amendment introduces non-compliance with Article 84 EPC. This means in broad terms that a preexisting lack of clarity in the granted claims does not justify the revocation of a patent.