Coronavirus (COVID-19) - continually updated information

Information for customers, external partners and potential visitors to the EPO

Last updated: 26 March 2020

In view of the present situation with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) the European Patent Office (EPO) is adopting the following preventive measures.

We understand this may cause some business disruption and apologise for any inconvenience caused. We are continuously monitoring the situation and will provide updates as necessary.

Events

We are postponing all EPO organised events in March, April and May. Organisers will contact participants on an individual basis and, where possible, inform them of the new dates.

Oral Proceedings before Examining and Opposition Divisions

The EPO has decided to postpone until further notice all oral proceedings in examination and opposition proceedings scheduled until 17 April 2020 unless they have already been confirmed to take place by means of videoconferencing. During this time the EPO will explore options for further facilitating, where applicable, the use of videoconferencing in oral proceedings.

Separate notifications about this postponement will be sent to the parties as soon as possible. To guarantee that all parties are informed in due time, the EPO may exceptionally use additional means of communication (e.g. email). The parties are invited to check the respective files online via the European Patent Register where the notice of postponement until further notice of oral proceedings will be available shortly after its despatch.

Search, examining and opposition divisions will continue with their other activities, as well as holding oral proceedings which have been confirmed to take place by means of videoconferencing.

Oral Proceedings before the Boards of Appeal

Oral proceedings will not be held in the premises of the Boards of Appeal until 17 April 2020. Concerned parties will be contacted accordingly with a communication.

Remedies in case of non-observance of time limits

In view of the disruptions to public life caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, the EPO has taken measures to safeguard users’ rights. All time limits expiring on or after 15 March 2020 are thus extended until 17 April 2020. As regards time limits expiring before 15 March 2020, the EPO has facilitated the use of legal remedies for users located in areas directly affected by disruptions due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The extensions and remedies apply to parties and representatives in proceedings under the EPC and the PCT. The following notice provides all relevant information and will be published in the EPO’s March Official Journal. If the disruption should continue after 17 April 2020, the EPO may publish another notice informing users about further extensions and remedies in respect of time limits.

EQE

EQE 16-19 March 2020 - CANCELLED

The Supervisory Board of the European qualifying examination has decided to cancel the EQE (pre-examination and main examination papers). The Supervisory Board is currently assessing whether the examination can be rescheduled to a later date in 2020. This may however take some time due to the complexity of the logistics.

External partners

We are requesting external partners to abstain from visiting the EPO if they have recently visited a high risk area.

For oral proceedings, please see the relevant section above.

Staff working from home

Complying with the new Austrian regulations the staff of the EPO’s Vienna office have been instructed to work from home. Staff at all other sites are being provided the means to work from home and many are doing so. The Office fully remains at the service of users and we will ensure the full functioning of our technical infrastructure. Further updates may follow.

List of high-risk areas

  • In Austria: state of Tyrol
  • Egypt
  • In France: region of Grand Est (this region includes Alsace, Lorraine and Champagne-Ardenne)
  • In Germany: Landkreis Heinsberg in North Rhine-Westphalia
  • Italy
  • Iran
  • In Republic of Korea: Gyeongsangbuk-do province (north Gyeongsang)
  • In Spain: Madrid, the provinces Navarra and La Rioja and the Basque Country (Pais Vasco)
  • In Switzerland: the cantons of Tessin, Waadt and Geneva
  • In US: states of California, Washington and New York

Please note that the definition of areas affected by the spread of the Coronavirus may be subject to change.

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