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EPO announces end of the “10-day rule”

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The Administrative Council of the EPO has decided to abolish the “10-day rule” from 1 November, 2023.

 At a meeting on 13 October, 2022, members of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation gathered to discuss a range of rule changes designed to modernise the operation of the EPO.

Top of the list was the relevance of the so-called “10-day rule” in the era of instant electronic communication.

At present, under Rule 126(2) EPC, communications from the EPO are deemed to be delivered to the recipient ten days after the date of mailing – effectively providing an additional ten days to respond to many EPO communications.  Intended to protect parties from delays in the postal service, this rule has drawn increasing scrutiny as the EPO has gradually replaced physical documents with electronic communications.

Following months of rumours, the Administrative Council has now confirmed that Rule 126(2) EPC will be modified so that communications from the EPO will be deemed delivered on the date stated on the communication.

Effectively, therefore, the time period to respond to many EPO communications will be shortened by ten days.

The change is expected to take effect from 1 November, 2023, allowing parties time to adapt their processes to the new rule.

The new rule will include safeguards to protect parties in the event of a delay between the mailing and receipt of a communication from the EPO.  In cases where a recipient alleges that a communication was delayed, the burden of proving that the communication was delivered on time will lie with the EPO.

What does this mean for me?

Applicants, agents, and representatives will need to adapt to the change in the way deadlines are calculated.  Your Forresters contact will ensure that you are kept fully informed as the change comes into effect.

Jack Dean