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Notice from the European Patent Office dated 3 June 2009 concerning the communication of parties' observations to the other parties in opposition proceedings for information

OJ EPO 2009, 434

The number of documents submitted in opposition proceedings has been increasing. Given both the need to simplify administrative procedures and the fact that files can be inspected online, certain changes have been introduced in connection with the transmission of these documents to the parties.

If a notice of opposition is filed within the prescribed time limit, the opposition division must communicate it to the proprietor of the patent (Rule 79(1) EPC). Similarly, if several notices of opposition are filed, or observations are submitted by the patent proprietor or the opponent(s), the EPO communicates them to the other parties (Rule 79(2) and (3) EPC).

The EPO will continue to communicate notices of opposition and observations to the other parties for information, together with the cited documents, but it will no longer automatically transmit copies of documents specified as patent documents. Parties to opposition proceedings thus have to expect that patent documents will be provided free of charge in paper form only upon request. However, all documents will be available for inspection via the Register Plus online service at www.epoline.org (see Special edition No. 3, OJ EPO 2007, J.2).

If oral proceedings are to take place, parties are advised to check the electronic file via the Register Plus online service in advance of the hearing to ensure they are in possession of all relevant documents.