Date: 10 July 2023
The amendment of Rules 126(2) and 127(2) EPC introduces a new notion of service, according to which postal and electronic service are deemed to have taken place on the date of the document. The previous rule according to which a document is deemed to have been served on the tenth day after delivery to the postal service provider or transmission will no longer apply from 1 November 2023. This adapts the practice of calculating time limits to the reality of electronic service, which makes delays in receipt unlikely. The calculation of time limits in the EPC procedure will thus soon correspond to the already common practice in the PCT procedure - a welcome standardisation.
As before, the fiction does not apply if the EPO cannot prove that a document has been received. The burden of proving receipt rests with the Office. In the event that a document is received exceptionally late, a safeguard is introduced: If notification is contested and the EPO cannot prove that a document reached the addressee within seven days of the date on which it is dated, any time limit triggered by the fictitious receipt of that document will be extended by the number of days exceeding those seven days.
The amendments apply to documents served by postal services or electronic means on or after 1 November 2023. Since the issue of a document is the event triggering the service process, the relevant date for determining whether the amended rules on service and calculation of time limits apply to a particular document is the date of that document.
Further information and calculation examples are available on the EPO website: Click here