The European Patent Office is seeking to appoint a president of its boards of appeal, a newly created post aimed at addressing longstanding independence concerns.

In a notice published on its website, the EPO said the appointment would ‘foster autonomy and efficiency’ at the appeal boards, which are responsible for hearing appeals against examination decisions.

Under the European Patent Convention, the framework that instituted the European Patent Office, the 28 boards of appeal are supposed to be independent from the rest of the office and only answer to the EPO’s supervisory body the Administrative Council.

But in 2014, their autonomy was thrown into doubt when EPO president Benoit Battistelli (pictured) placed a ‘house ban’ on the then head of the enlarged board of appeal.

That member is currently subject to disciplinary proceedings but concerns were raised that Battistelli had over-reached his responsibilities.

According to the EPO, the new president will play a pivotal role in the ‘implementation of structural reform’.

The office is seeking a candidate with ‘many years of experience in judicial or administrative functions’, preferably including patent law.

Tim Jackson, chair of the patents committee at the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, which last year made a public call for a ‘separation of power’ at the EPO, told the Gazette: ‘CIPA welcomes the planned delegation of responsibilities from the EPO president to a new president of the boards of appeal.

‘This will further enhance the independence of the board.’