The EPO has now announced that from 4 January 2021 Opposition Division oral proceedings will normally be held by videoconference. This is already the case for Examining Division oral proceedings.
Use of videoconferencing for oral proceedings before the Opposition Division will no longer require the parties’ consent. A request may be made for oral proceedings to take place in person, but this will only be allowed where there are strong reasons, for example the need to examine physical samples.
The EPO has confirmed to us that oral proceedings which have already been scheduled in person will be converted to videoconference oral proceedings on the same date. We will be contacting our clients in due course on cases which are affected.
These arrangements are under an extended pilot scheme running to September 2021. Full details can be seen on the EPO website.
Currently oral proceedings before the Board of Appeal can be conducted by videoconference, but only with the consent of the parties.