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Acceleration of Opposition Proceedings in Cases of Parallel Court Actions - EPO

26-Feb-2024 | Source : The European Patent Office (EPO) | Visits : 763

MUNICH - Opposition proceedings will be accelerated if the European Patent Office (EPO) is informed by the UPC or a national court or competent authority of a contracting state that an infringement or revocation action relating to the opposed patent has been instituted before it. How opposition proceedings are accelerated depends on when the EPO is informed of the parallel action, according to the official website of EPO. 

Further to the notice published in the Official Journal last November (OJ EPO 2023, A99), the EPO will accelerate the processing of oppositions if it is informed of parallel infringement or revocation proceedings before the Unified Patent Court or a national court or competent authority of a contracting state. 

The prompt conclusion of such parallel opposition proceedings at the EPO will foster legal certainty and procedural efficiency, while promoting quality and consistency in the European patent system. Such acceleration not only serves the interests of all parties involved in the proceedings, but also those of the authorities, courts and the general public. 

To enable a swift final decision in such opposition cases, while respecting the legal framework of the EPC, opposition divisions will make every effort to issue procedural actions as soon as possible. To this end, summons to oral proceedings in particular will be issued quickly and at minimum notice. The co-operation of all parties to the proceedings in such cases will be essential. 

The specific acceleration measures adopted will depend on when the EPO is notified of parallel court proceedings, as outlined in the scenarios below: 

During the opposition period (i.e. in the nine months after grant of the European patent) 
After expiry of the period, the proprietor will be invited to comment on the opposition within three months (instead of the usual four months) and summons will be issued within two months of receipt of the proprietor's reply, summoning the parties at minimum notice (Rule 115(1) EPC). 
After the expiry of the opposition period but before the proprietor's reply to the opposition 
Summons to oral proceedings will be issued within two months of receipt of the proprietor's reply. The parties will be summoned at minimum notice (Rule 115(1) EPC). 
After the proprietor has replied but before summons has been issued 
Summons to oral proceedings will be issued within two months of receipt of the information on parallel proceedings. The parties will be summoned at minimum notice (Rule 115(1) EPC). 
After summons has been sent 
Oral proceedings are rescheduled to the earliest possible date (provided that the time saving is significant). 
After the decision has been pronounced 
The decision and the minutes will be issued within one month. 

These acceleration measures apply with immediate effect and will also be applied to pending proceedings.

 
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