"Ten Day Rule" abolished by the European Patent Office
Since 1 November 2023, the European Patent Office (EPO) has discontinued the 'Ten Day Rule' applied to various communications, including examination reports. The previous practice was based on former Rule 126 EPC, which granted a ten-day period from the issuance of a communication, primarily to account for varying postal delivery times across Europe. However, with the predominance of electronic communication, the EPO has determined that this additional ten-day period is no longer necessary. Consequently, since 1 November 2023, this notification period has been excluded from all communications that specify a response time frame.
Previously, our practice involved specifying a response deadline based on the communication's date, excluding the ten-day notification period. This often provided a de facto "grace period" and enabled timely filing of responses even when we received instructions close to the deadline. Since 1 November 2023, this has no longer been possible. Accordingly, the response deadline for communications issued since this date is strictly calculated from the communication's issue date, without any additional notification period. Regardless, if the deadline falls on a non-working day for the EPO, it will be extended to the subsequent working day.
The EPO has announced measures to address potential delays in document delivery. When communications are not delivered timely, the EPO must demonstrate the delivery and its date. If unable to do so, the EPO will reissue the communication with a new date. Additionally, if a communication is delivered more than seven days late, the EPO is able to extend the response period. Given the shift towards electronic delivery, we anticipate that these measures will be rare exceptions.
Should you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact us.