An EPO opposition can be filed up to 9 months after EP patent grant. It leads to a contest between the patentee and the opponent, which comes to a hearing at the EPO. At least one of the parties will be unhappy with the outcome, and they can file an appeal, leading to a further hearing at the EPO.
EPO oppositions are relatively inexpensive, compared with national patent court proceedings after grant. However they should not be undertaken lightly. They are still a substantial commitment. When they are needed – which is when a competitor’s patent has to be opposed, or when a competitor has opposed one of our client’s patents, and we need to defend it – Appleyard Lees has the expertise to operate effectively. Appleyard Lees’ attorneys have conducted hundreds of Oppositions and Appeals, acting for patent owners and for opponents. Appleyard Lees is experienced in working in a multi-opponent group. In this way considerable savings can be achieved. Appleyard Lees will always seek to avoid duplication and to achieve the best and most cost-effective outcome for its clients.
There are hazards in the EP opposition procedures. Less experienced practitioners can easily trip up. Our job is to exploit our knowledge to benefit the business interests of our clients.
An EP opposition cannot be filed before EP patent grant, but EPO third party observations can be. The Examiner will review what is filed and will take it into account. This is a simple procedure. It is sometimes thought to be weak because the “observer” merely makes its submission and stands aside while the applicant and the examiner get on with it. However this procedure is becoming more popular and Appleyard Lees’ attorneys have had considerable success with it. We are open to this approach when it will help our clients.