20 March 2020
In view of the present situation caused by the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) the European Patent Office (EPO) is adopting the following preventive measures: 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.
In view of the rapidly evolving situation all parties to the proceedings before the EPO are invited to check on a regular basis the section of the EPO's website dedicated to providing ongoing updates in relation to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). This section covers information on oral proceedings and remedies in case of the non-observance of time limits.
The EPO will continue to monitor the situation and may take further measures as the situation evolves.