14 October 2022

EPO ends the ’10-day rule’

UPDATE as of 19 October 2023

The European Patent Office (EPO)’s ‘10-day rule’ will cease to exist from 1 November 2023. From that date, EPO communications will be deemed to be delivered on the same date which they show, rather than 10 days later (as occurs at present). Click here to find out more.

As of yesterday, 13 October, the Administrative Council of the European Patent Office (EPO) has passed “a new package of rule changes intended to adapt the rules of the European Patent Court (EPC) to the digital age”, according to a report from the UK’s Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA). One rule due to change as part of this package is Rule 126(2) EPC, also known as the ’10-day rule’. This will affect the majority of deadlines in proceedings before the EPO.

Users of the European patent system will be familiar with the EPO’s ’10-day rule’. For those unaware, it is a legal fiction that states official communications from the EPO are typically said to have been delivered to the recipient 10 days after the date which they bear. Many deadlines at the EPO are calculated based on the ‘deemed’ delivery date of official EPO communications. From November 2023, EPO communications will be deemed to be delivered on the same date which they show, rather than 10 days later as they are at the moment. This means that from November next year many deadlines set by the EPO will be 10 days shorter than they are at present.

Abolition of the 10-day rule had been proposed earlier this year but the EPO opted not to go ahead with the rule change at that time. Although the EPO has not officially confirmed CIPA’s report at the time of writing, it looks as though a rule change has now formally been agreed.

It is important to note this new rule will not come in to force until 1 November 2023, providing time for users to adapt their docketing systems appropriately. According to CIPA, the EPO will additionally run a publicity campaign over this coming year to assist those concerned in dealing with the coming rule change.

More details of the planned rule change will follow when we receive them, including confirmation of any transitional measures (e.g. for communications issued before the rule change comes into force) as well as confirmation of safeguards which we understand will be put in place in case documents are not delivered on time.