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Is the sun about to set on the EPO’s Ten-Day Rule?

Is the sun about to set on the EPO’s Ten-Day Rule?

13/05/22

A unique feature of determining the actual response deadline to Communications, such as Examination Reports, notified by the European Patent Office (EPO) is that the number of months cited in the Communication runs from the ‘notification’ of the Communication rather than its date. 

According to Rule 126(2) EPC, unless it can be shown to be longer, such notification is taken to be ten days after the date of the Communication (even if the actual receipt was well within that ten-day period).

The provision was of course introduced in the days of physical postal deliveries. However, with the increasing reliance on electronic communications, and the use of electronic mailboxes at the EPO, the Ten-Day period seemed to be becoming increasing anachronistic – even though it has been well loved, and well used, by Applicants and Attorneys alike.

However, as part of its attempted adaption to modern working practices, it seems that the EPO has decided that the, sometimes ‘safeguard’, ten-day notification period is going to be consigned to history in the early part of 2023, and with deadline dates to be determined by reference to the actual dates of Communications.