The EPO has announced that it is extending the use of video conference for opposition division oral proceedings until 31 January 2022. The current measures, whereby all opposition division oral proceedings take place by video conference, were due to expire on 15 September 2021. We understand that this announcement means that no opposition division oral proceedings will take place in-person until after 31 January 2022.
These measures do not apply to the Boards of Appeal. While the Boards of Appeal have also been conducting video conference oral proceedings, they have retained the possibility of in-person oral proceedings in Munich.
As we have previously reported, there is an ongoing referral to the Enlarged Board of Appeal concerning the legality of holding oral proceedings by video conference without the consent of the parties. The oral proceedings for that case are due to be heard (by video conference) on 28 May 2021, with a decision expected fairly soon afterwards. Depending upon the outcome of that referral, there may be further developments in relation to the approach taken by opposition divisions and/or the Boards of Appeal in relation to video conference oral proceedings.
For more information on video conference oral proceedings at the EPO, see our briefing here.