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On 13 October, the Administrative Council of the European Patent Office (EPO) implemented a set of rule changes intended to “adapt the rules of the European Patent Court to the digital age”. Amongst these is a rule change which had been largely expected.
Currently, a document sent by the EPO is deemed to be delivered ten days from the date on which the document was sent, to allow the time for postal delivery. These 10 days were added to the period of time set by the document for any deadline.
However, now the EPO is sending its communications electronically, this 10-day rule is obsolete, and Rule 126(2) is being changed to remove it. The change will mean that documents will be considered to occur on the day that the document is electronically sent by the EPO.
The new rule will however include safeguards for cases in which a document is not delivered on the same day. If a recipient alleges that a document was not delivered on time, it will be up to the EPO to prove that it was.
However, the new rule will only come into force as of 1 November 2023, which will allow firms and patent applicants time to update their systems to be in conformity with the amended rule.
If you have any questions about this, please contact one of our patents team.