21 July 2021
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On 16 July 2021, the Enlarged Board of Appeal confirmed that Board of Appeal oral proceedings may be held by videoconference (ViCo) without the consent of the parties during a period of general emergency, such as the present COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was taken after a public hearing held before the Enlarged Board on 2 July 2021.

We’ll have to wait for the full written decision to be issued, but it appears that the Enlarged Board has avoided answering the more fundamental question of whether oral proceedings may be held by videoconference (ViCo) without the consent of the parties once the COVID-19 pandemic is over. If this is the case, then it seems likely that there will be another referral to the Enlarged Board asking this more general question. In the meantime, while we now at least have some very welcome certainty about the situation during the pandemic, the long-term future of ViCo oral proceedings is still uncertain.

This blog will be updated once the full written decision is issued, so watch this space.

Read more on the EPO website.

Emily's comments on this also feature in Intellectual Property Magazine and ManagingIP.

Most of Emily’s work is in the Life Sciences sector, with a focus on biotechnology. Emily has extensive experience drafting and prosecuting patent applications, as well as global portfolio management, which means that she has experience prosecuting applications not just at the European Patent Office, but worldwide. Emily has a sizeable oppositions and appeals practice and she is extremely experienced at handling hearings before the EPO.

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