HomeInsightsEuropean Patent Office administrative Council adopts amendments to EPC Rules in support of digital transformation


At its 172nd session on 13 October 2022, the Administrative Council adopted amendments to EPC Rules to support the ongoing digitalisation of the EPO’s patent grant procedure.

The legal changes will enter into force in two packages.

The first package enters into force on 1 February 2023. The first part of this package covers requirements for the presentation of documents with the EPO. The requirements will, in future, be decided by the President of the EPO instead of in the Implementing Regulations. Therefore, Rule 46 and Rule 49(3)-(12) EPC will be deleted and incorporated into a decision of the President of the EPO. Rules 49(2), 50, 57(i) and 82(2) EPC will be adapted accordingly. These changes will ensure more flexibility to change presentation requirements as digitalisation processes evolve.

The second part of the package makes a change to Rule 65 EPC. In future, documents cited in search reports may be made available instead of being sent to applicants. This will reduce paper consumption. All citation types, including multimedia citations, will be supported. The technical changes needed to implement the service are under development and will be communicated in due course. The amendment to Rule 65 EPC will not, therefore, involve any changes in practice for the time being.

The second package enters into force on 1 November 2023. To align the EPC Rules with the PCT, new rules for notification and time limit calculation will apply as of 1 November 2023. The “ten-day rule” will be abolished and documents will be deemed to be notified on the date they bear. Safeguards will be introduced in cases where a document is not received or received exceptionally late (more than seven days after the date). In the event of a dispute concerning the delivery of a document the EPO will still be obliged to prove that the document was delivered and the date of its delivery. This change affects Rules 126(2), 127(2) and 131(2) EPC. The changes shift the focus of the notification system from paper to digital. Further details will be provided by an OJ Notice well in advance of the entry into force of the amended Rules. To read the EPO’s news release in full, click here.