EPO Further Extends Videoconference for Opposition Division Oral Proceedings until 31 May 2022
The EPO has announced that it is further extending the use of videoconference for opposition division oral proceedings until 31 May 2022. The current measures, whereby all opposition division oral proceedings take place by videoconference, were due to expire on 31 January 2022. We understand that this announcement means that no opposition division oral proceedings will take place in-person until after 31 May 2022.
These measures do not apply to the Boards of Appeal, who resumed in-person oral proceedings in Munich to a limited extent on 18 May 2020 and are currently conducting both in-person oral proceedings and videoconference oral proceedings, on a case by case basis.
As we have previously reported, the Enlarged Board of Appeal issued a written decision in October 2021 for case G1/21 regarding the legality of holding oral proceedings by videoconference without the consent of the parties. They considered that in-person oral hearings represent the "gold standard" and parties should only be denied this option for "good reasons". If the EPO decides to continue conducting opposition division oral proceedings by videoconference without the consent of the parties once the pandemic is over, then it seems likely that challenges to this practice could arise based on the reasoning of the EBA's decision.
For more information on videoconference oral proceedings at the EPO, see our briefing here.