10 November 2020
In view of the ongoing disruptions caused by the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the European Patent Office (EPO) has decided, with effect from 4 January 2021, to hold oral proceedings in opposition by VICO in accordance with Article 2 of the Decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 10 November 2020 concerning the modification and extension of the pilot project for oral proceedings by videoconference before opposition divisions. Where there are serious reasons preventing the use of VICO in opposition, oral proceedings will be postponed until after 15 September 2021.
Oral proceedings in examination will continue to be held by VICO in accordance with the Decision of the President of the EPO dated 1 April 2020 concerning oral proceedings by videoconference before examining divisions. Where there are serious reasons preventing the use of VICO for oral proceedings in examination, they will similarly be postponed until after 15 September 2021.
The parties will be informed about the conduct or postponement of oral proceedings in affected cases as soon as possible. The parties are invited to check the respective files online via the European Patent Register.
The EPO intends to maintain oral proceedings in opposition which have been scheduled to take place on the premises of the EPO after 15 September 2021. All necessary measures to prevent a spread of coronavirus and protect the health of all participants in the context of such oral proceedings will be taken. In the interest of better planning and efficient use of resources, any party to such proceedings is kindly asked to inform the EPO should the situation with regard to their request to hold oral proceedings have changed or should they no longer need interpretation.
The EPO will continue to monitor the situation and may take further measures as the situation evolves.
Please note that these measures differ from those decided by the President of the Boards of Appeal for oral proceedings before the Boards of Appeal.