Oral proceedings by video conference at the EPO
June 15, 2021
The global pandemic has led to widespread use of video conferencing, including at the EPO. The EPO has recently announced that oral proceedings before the opposition division will continue to be held by video conference until 31st January 2022. Meanwhile, the EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal are considering the legality of holding oral proceedings by video conference without consent of the parties.
The EPO uses oral proceedings as a means to bring examination, opposition and appeal proceedings to a close. The right to oral proceedings is enshrined in law.
Following changes implemented due to the global pandemic, oral proceedings before the examining and opposition divisions are now held by video conference, unless there are serious reasons against it.
In the case of oral proceedings before the opposition division, these provisions were due to expire on 15th September 2021. The EPO has though recently announced that this date will be extended until 31st January 2022. Accordingly, oral proceedings before the opposition division will not take place in person until after 31 January 2022.
During the global pandemic the Boards of Appeal have also been conducting oral proceedings by video conference, however, they have retained the possibility of in person oral proceedings in Munich.
The legality of holding oral proceedings by video conference without consent of the parties is currently being considered by the EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal, with a decision expected in July 2021.