EPO Oppositions allow a patent to be challenged at a fraction of the cost of litigation. They can be useful tool for trimming a competitor's overgrown monopoly, or a tactical component of a bigger picture - we have used them strategically to shift the balance in ongoing US litigation. However they need to be treated differently from "normal" patent prosecution, particularly with the new Appeal rules. We often come on board to add expertise at this point, either to attack or, more critically, to defend a key patent. If Opposition is not a component of your IP strategy you may be missing a trick. We are happy to work collaboratively with your existing team or in-house department. See feedback on our success rate.
An Appeal at the EPO is the end of the road for a patent application or Opposition. A judge from the Bundesgerichtshof (the highest German civil court) once joked (sic.) "Our decisions are not final because they are legally right, but they are legally right because they are final". The new rules make it important to get things right ideally even before the start of any Appeal and they do not make life easy for applicants. For important cases, you should really be considering Appeal strategy early. However if you have not, we do enjoy turning around tricky cases or giving a second pair of eyes and we are happy to see if we can help even if it looks too late.
The EPO had been using video-conferencing during Covid for Examination. After trialling it for Oppositions, with the consent of the parties, as from January 2021 it has been used for Opposition and Appeal without requiring the consent of the parties. Ilya recently won a major 10 hour Opposition hearing, believed to be one of the longest ones held at a sitting by ViCo and has lectured the UK profession on preparation and assisted other European attorneys in difficult cases. If you would like to hear more about how the change to ViCo is affecting proceedings or join us to watch a live EPO hearing, get in touch.