The EPO has decided to postpone all in person Opposition Hearings for the rest of 2020. Not surprising given the complexity of travelling and the risks associated with bringing people together from all over Europe and beyond.
If all participants agree for the Hearing to take place by video conference then it can go ahead. Otherwise, it will be postponed.
This is big news for a number of reasons.
First, it is likely to push parties to video conference in complex cases where there are major advantages to being present in person.
Secondly, for cases where at least one participant disagrees, the Hearing is likely to be postponed for many months, perhaps even years. Some parties might use this option strategically to string out a case which they're likely to lose.
In view of the ongoing disruptions caused by the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) the European Patent Office (EPO) has decided to postpone until further notice all oral proceedings in opposition scheduled until 31 December 2020 (previously until 14 September 2020) which have not either already been confirmed to take place by videoconference or will be held by videoconference with the parties' consent under the pilot project.