The European Patent Office (EPO) opposition procedure allows people to challenge the validity of an EU patent within 9 months of its grant date.  Oppositions are a way to revoke people’s patents.  Oppositions have historically taken up to 3 years after the grant date to reach a decision resulting in legal uncertainty for all parties until a decision is reached.

In July 2016 the EPO introduced a streamlined opposition procedure to expedite decisions on opposition proceedings.  The Opposition Division now aims to reach a decision within 2 years from the grant date.

Under the new procedures the following process applies after an opposition has been filed:

  • the EPO invites the patent proprietor to respond with observations and any amendments to the patent
  • the response time limit has been reduced from 6 months to 4 months
  • all parties present final arguments at oral proceedings
  • the Opposition Division set a date (immovable unless in exceptional circumstances) for oral proceedings and issue a provisional opinion on the validity of the patent within 2 months of receipt of the patent proprietor’s response.