Patent opposition proceedings at EPO (European Patent Office)
Opposition is a procedure provided by the European Patent Convention (EPC) to centrally revoke a patent in Europe. It needs to be started within nine months from the date of grant. This is a very strict, non-extendible deadline.
Opposition proceedings take place at the EPO offices in The Hague (The Netherlands) or Munich (Germany).
Advantages of centralised EPO opposition proceedings.
If you want to have a European patent revoked, you don’t need to do a centralised opposition before the EPO. It is also possible in Europe to request patent revocation at the national courts.
However, the main advantages of a patent opposition procedure before the European Patent Office are reduced cost and complexity, because there is only a single, centralised procedure. Instead, if you want a European patent revoked after the nine-month opposition period, you need to start revocation procedures country by country. This leads to complicated, long and expensive legal procedures.
A further advantage of opposition, at least for the opponent, is the following: If opposition is unsuccessful, you still retain the possibility to try to obtain patent revocation later in the various national courts. This allows, for instance, to search again for stronger or more prior art, which can then be presented in the subsequent national procedures.
European Patent Attorney needed?
Parties not having a residence in the EPC member states need to be represented, by law, by a European Patent Attorney. There is no such requirement for parties having a residence in one of those member states. However, it is very strongly recommended also for those parties to be represented by a European Patent Attorney.
Article 99 specializes in European patent opposition procedures, representing patent proprietors as well as opponents.
So, whether you want to oppose a European patent or whether you need to defend your European patent against an attack by somebody else, Article 99 is at your service.
You will find more information under the various tabs. However, the best course of action is to pick up the phone and discuss your case with a specialist European Patent Attorney.