Dr. Stephan Jellbauer

EPO postpones Oral Proceedings in Opposition Proceedings due to COVID-19

30.07.2020

The European Patent Office (EPO) announced on 29 July 2020 that, due to the continuing uncertainties surrounding the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, all oral proceedings in opposition cases scheduled until 31 December 2020 will be postponed until further notice. [1]

Only oral hearings which are already confirmed to be held by videoconference or for which all participants will agree to a videoconference will take place as scheduled. An EPO pilot project [2] on inter partes oral proceedings via videoconference is running at the moment. According to the current legal situation, oral proceedings will not be held by videoconference against the will of one of the parties to the opposition proceedings.

In examination proceedings, however, videoconferencing is currently the default of conducting oral proceedings. Applicants must expressly request that oral proceedings [3] be held as a physical hearing at the EPO. Such request can be rejected without the possibility of an appeal.

The EPO will inform affected parties to the proceedings as soon as possible about the postponement. It is currently planned to resume physical oral proceedings at the EPO from 4 January 2021. However, this date may be subject to further changes.

Different rules [4] apply for oral proceedings before the EPO Boards of Appeal.

If you have questions about oral proceedings in times of the coronavirus pandemic, please contact us.

 

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