EPO’S POLICY CHANGES IN A NUTSHELL
1. Oral proceedings before the Boards of Appeal are going ahead as face-to-face; it is up to the parties themselves to check the venue and starting time of their oral proceedings
The current policy is for oral proceedings before the Boards of Appeal to continue face-to-face. Due to the safety precautions introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the starting time and venue of appeal proceedings may have to be changed at short notice. The EPO has discontinued its previous policy of informing parties of a change of venue or starting time, and it is now up to the parties themselves to check for such changes..
2. Videoconferencing is now the standard way of conducting oral proceedings in examination
The EPO changed its policy in the spring, and all oral proceedings of patent applications in examination are by videoconference. Traditional face-to-face is only possible in exceptional circumstances.
3. Videoconferencing for oral proceedings in opposition is being piloted at the moment
The EPO has launched a pilot project aimed at experimenting with videconferencing technology for oral proceedings in opposition, which will run until April 2021. There will be no face-to-face oral proceedings in opposition for the rest of 2020. All oral proceedings in opposition that have not already been confirmed to take place by videoconference or that cannot be held by videoconference with the parties’ consent under the pilot project have been postponed until further notice. The objective of the pilot project is to establish videoconferences as the EPO’s standard way of conducting opposition oral proceedings.