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“10 day rule” at European Patent Office to end

On 13 October 2022, the Administrative Council of the European Patent Office (EPO) approved a package of changes aligning the rules of the EPC more closely with modern practice.

Included in this package was a change to Rule 126(2) EPC, focusing on the date on which a document sent by ‘post’ from the EPO is considered to have been delivered.  At present, the deemed date of delivery is ten days from the mailing date of the document.  Under the new rules, the date of deemed delivery will become the date printed on the document.

As such, the ’10 day rule’ whereby deadlines notified by post were de facto extended by ten days will be abolished when the new rules come into effect.  This rule change will not become law immediately, instead coming into force on 01 November 2023.

We consider this a welcome change, removing complexity around the actual deadline for responding to communications at the EPO and the difference between deadlines set by post and those set by other actions, such as publication.  Finally, this rule change reflects how law firms work before the EPO, with communications routinely passing between the EPO and patent attorneys electronically rather than by the postal service.

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