Procédures orales devant les divisions d'opposition et les chambres de recours de l’OEB
We have reported in our IP Alert of April, which you can find here, that the Oral Proceedings before the Examining Division are now being held by default via videoconferencing, which was arranged in response to the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Previously, this was only possible upon request. Here we present some changes regarding the Oral Proceedings before the Opposition Divisions and the Boards of Appeal at the EPO due to the spread of the Coronavirus.
Oral proceedings before the Opposition Divisions
These measures did not apply to oral proceedings before the Opposition Divisions. With respect to the Opposition Divisions, the standard is still to have oral proceedings in the premises of the EPO. The EPO has opened earlier this year the possibility to conduct oral proceedings via videoconferencing in a pilot project, which we will explain further below.
The oral proceedings taking place on the premises of the EPO were previously suspended until 14 September 2020. The EPO has published on 29 July 2020 that, due to the ongoing disruptions caused by the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), all oral proceedings before the Opposition Divisions scheduled until 31 December 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 will be postponed. The EPO will inform the parties about the postponement.
The EPO intends to maintain oral proceedings in opposition proceedings in the premises of the EPO, which have been scheduled on or after 4 January 2021.
With respect to oral proceedings via videoconferencing, the parties may participate at a pilot project for such oral proceedings upon request, see the Decision of the President of the EPO of 14 April 2020, which you can find here.
The requirements for participating at the pilot project is that all parties agree. Videoconferencing cannot take place, if the Opposition Division has decided to take evidence or there are other serious reasons for not doing so. Indeed, the provisions prohibit taking evidence via videoconferencing, for example, when parties, witnesses and experts have to be heard.
In particular, for oral proceedings via videoconferencing, accompanying parties or representatives could connect from different locations provided that the additional participants do not impair efficient conduct of the proceedings. Documents submitted during the oral proceedings will be distributed via e-mail to the other parties.
Oral proceedings before the Boards of Appeal
The above information does not concern oral proceedings in appeal, which are taking place on the premises of the EPO. However the number of persons who may attend are limited.
If parties cannot attend oral proceedings for which they have been summoned, they have to request a change of date.
Further, the Boards of Appeal provide the possibility to conduct the oral proceedings via videoconferencing upon request. However, all parties concerned have to agree to such a request.
More information can be found on the website of the Boards of Appeal, which you can find here.
It should be noted that the situation may change on short notice, in particular if the spread of COVID-19 increases again.
If you have any questions, please contact LAVOIX Munich.