The end of the “10-day Rule”
The Administrative Council of the European Patent Office has just adopted a series of measures amending several rules of the EPC Implementing Regulations.
These amendments aim at adapting the regulations to the digitalization of the EPO’s patent grant procedures. They are divided into two "packages" which will enter into force on different dates during 2023.
The first package, which will enter into force on February 1, 2023, modifies certain rules related to the form of documents submitted to the EPO. It also waives the obligation for the EPO to provide a copy of the documents cited in the search report. These documents will instead be made available to applicants via a platform.
The second package, which will enter into force on November 1, 2023, will affect our practice more significantly since it will abolish the famous "10-day rule". This rule creates a legal fiction according to which communications issued by the EPO are deemed to have been received only 10 days after their issue date. The deadlines triggered by these communications therefore start to run 10 days after their issue date. This rule, which is often used as an escape valve, will therefore no longer apply as of November 2023. The communications will be considered as notified on their issue date. The time limits will therefore also start to run from that date. Safeguards will be available in cases where a document is not received or received exceptionally late (more than 7 days after the date).
The EPO press release dated October 21, 2022, concerning these changes is available here.
More information will be available in the November and December editions of the Official Journal.