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Update on Coronavirus - SUPERSEDED by new continually updated page

This news item was last updated on 12 March 2020.
Please refer to our information page:

12 March 2020

In view of the present situation with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) the European Patent Office (EPO) is adopting the following measures as a precaution:

  • Oral Proceedings before Examining and Opposition Divisions
    With regard to the current spread of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19), the EPO would like to inform parties and their representatives that oral proceedings before examining and opposition divisions will in principle take place as scheduled.

    Oral proceedings involving parties or representatives who have recently visited high risk areas will be held by videoconference or postponed, upon request.

    In other cases where the general spread of Coronavirus prevents a party or representative from attending oral proceedings, for instance in case of travel restrictions in companies or patent attorney firms, the EPO will do everything feasible to remove the need for the party or representative to travel to oral proceedings. In particular, oral proceedings by videoconference will be offered in examination and, to the extent possible, in opposition proceedings. The relevant party or representative should indicate in each particular case which alternative measures they request."
  • EQE 16-19 March 2020 – CANCELLED
    In response to the latest developments regarding the spread of the COVID-19 (novel Coronavirus) and in line with the precautionary measures taken by the EPO, the Supervisory Board of the European qualifying examination has decided to cancel the EQE (pre-examination and main examination papers). The Supervisory Board is currently assessing whether the examination can be rescheduled to a later date in 2020. This may however take some time due to the complexity of the logistics.
  • We are postponing all EPO organised events that involve more than 50 participants in March and April. Organisers will contact participants on an individual basis and, where possible, inform them of the new dates.
  • We are requesting external partners to abstain from visiting the EPO if they have recently visited a high risk area.
  • We are cancelling all duty travel scheduled for March and April as of 5 March 2020. This includes any travel between EPO sites (except for movements between our local offices in Munich). All staff who are currently on duty travel are recommended to return to their usual place of work as soon as reasonably possible.

High risk areas

  • China
  • South Korea
  • Iran
  • Italy
  • The German Landkreis Heinsberg in Nordrhein-Westfalen.
  • The French region Grand Est

Please note that the definition of areas affected by the spread of the Coronavirus may be subject to change.

We understand this may cause some business disruption and apologise for any inconvenience caused. We are continuously monitoring the situation and will provide updates as necessary.