29 July 2020
In view of the ongoing disruptions caused by the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) the European Patent Office (EPO) has decided to postpone until further notice all oral proceedings in opposition scheduled until 31 December 2020 (previously until 14 September 2020) which have not either already been confirmed to take place by videoconference or will be held by videoconference with the parties' consent under the pilot project (Article 2 of the Decision of the President of the EPO dated 14 April 2020 concerning the pilot project for oral proceedings by videoconference before opposition divisions). Oral proceedings in examination will continue to be held by videoconference in accordance with the Decision of the President of the EPO dated 1 April 2020 concerning oral proceedings by videoconference before examining divisions.
The parties will be informed about the 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 where the notice of postponement of oral proceedings will be available shortly after its despatch.
The EPO intends to maintain oral proceedings in opposition which have been scheduled to take place on the premises of the EPO on or after 4 January 2021 (1 January 2021 being a public holiday in Germany and The Netherlands followed by a weekend). 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.