The EPO has a pretty strict regime in place with respect to postponement of oral proceedings. As you might know, only a single date is fixed by the EPO ex officio, and this date
[…] will be cancelled and another date fixed […] only if the party concerned can advance serious reasons which justify the fixing of a new date. The request to fix another date shall be filed as soon as possible after the ground preventing the party concerned from attending the oral proceedings have arisen.
See the Notice from the EPO of 18 December 2008. Only a very limited set of ‘serious reasons’ is expressly whitelisted in ¶ 2.3. But even those whitelisted reasons are not sufficient sometimes. In particular in more recent times, at least in my experience. But that’s a different story; I might come back to this soon.
One of the whitelisted ‘serious reasons’ is a previously notified summons to oral proceedings before a national court. However, patent attorneys are not the legal representatives in by far the most cases at the FPC. They are rather only assisting, and the summons are not addressed to them. That makes it cumbersome to invoke the summons as a ‘serious reason’ with a request for postponement at the EPO.
However, the FPC has now issued a notice that patent attorneys assisting in proceedings before the FPC can request a confirmation that they are required to attend a hearing at the FPC, to avoid scheduling conflicts with the EPO.
to avoid scheduling conflicts with the European Patent Office, supporting patent attorneys may request a confirmation that they are required to attend a hearing at the Federal Patent Court, https://t.co/N5RZg2jvsL
— Swiss Patent Court (@PatentCourt) March 5, 2021
Needless to say that this is MUCH appreciated.
BE ON THE KNOW