European Patent Office to abolish the ‘10-day rule’

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The Administrative Council of the European Patent Office (EPO) recently passed “a new package of rule changes intended to adapt the rules of the European Patent Court (EPC) to the digital age” with the headline change being the abolition of the infamous ‘10-day rule’.

What is the ‘10-day rule’?

More formally set out in Rule 126(2) EPC, the 10-day rule dictates that official communications sent by registered letter from the EPO are deemed to have been delivered to the recipient 10 days after the date shown on the communication, referred to as the ‘notification date’. This is regardless of when they are actually delivered. Deadlines set by the official communication are then calculated from the notification date rather than the date shown on the communication itself.

Why is there a ‘10-day rule’?

The ‘10-day rule’ was relevant in the days when all communications were sent by physical postal delivery. However, with the EPO’s increasing reliance on electronic communications, and the introduction of electronic mailboxes, the 10-day period has been out-dated and unnecessary for some time now.

When is the ‘10-day rule’ changing?

Although not officially confirmed by the EPO, it seems all but guaranteed that the 10-day rule will soon cease to exist. EPO communications will be deemed to be delivered on the date shown on the communication, and deadlines will therefore be calculated from the date shown on the communication.

Since this change is not due to come into effect until 1 November 2023, nothing will change in the immediate future, and we’ll report further on this update nearer the time.

What does this mean for clients of Adamson Jones?

We have always calculated and reported the true deadline, including the effect of the 10-day rule, when reporting communications from the EPO. We will continue to report the true deadline to our clients, adjusting our calculation of the true deadline once the change in the rules has come into effect. 

Our clients should therefore continue to record the deadline reported by us, which will always be the true deadline.