Tuesday 29 September 2015

Two proprietors - two appeal fees - BGH Mauersteinsatz

The decision "Mauersteinsatz" X ZR 3/14  relates to the appeal of two proprietors co-owning a patent which had been revoked in an opposition procedure.  The appeal had been lodged "in the name and on behalf of the patentees" by the common representative of the proprietors along with the payment of only one appeal fee of EUR 500.

The Bundespatentgericht rejected the appeal as inadmissible because the statutory rules require the payment of one appeal fee per appellant - i.e. two appeal fees in this case.  According to the German law, the co-proprietors are considered as an "association by fractions" (Bruchteilsgemeinschaft) rather than an association under civil rights (GbR) which could have been considered as one single party.

The BGH found that in a constellation like this - where the fundamental right to judicial protection is at stake - the Bundespatentgericht should have tried to allocate the appeal fee to one of the appellants in order to avoid unacceptable hardship, wherein no strict standard should be applied.  In the case at issue, it turned out that the payment form showed the name of only one the appelants such that the appeal of the latter was considered admissible and the appeal of its co-applicant was rejected.

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