China: 欧洲专利局公布简化异议程序

欧洲专利局处理异议程序一向缓慢,个案平均的处理时间长需 3.5 年。为了提高程序的效率,欧洲专利局已修订一审的异议程序, 目的是在异议期届满后 15 个月内就案情简单的案件作出并公布裁决。修订程序已详细列明于欧洲专利局2016年6月1日公布的通告, 于2016 年 7 月 1 日起开始生效。

已修订的异议程序主要涉及专利权人答复异议通知的时间限制。目前, 专利权人的答复期限为四个月,但可申请延长期限, 延长期最多为两个月。一般而言,专利权人无须提供相关的支持证据, 欧洲专利局也会批准延长期限的申请。但由2016年7月1日开始,申请人需附上支持延长期限申请的相关实质性理由,并只有在特殊情况下申请才会被批准。欧洲专利局并未清晰界定何为特殊情况及对支持证据的要求。

此外,欧洲专利局的通告似乎暗示将不再给予异议提出者机会,来答复专利权人的意见和修订。 通告指明根据欧洲专利条约实施细则第 79条, 异议提出者会被立即告知专利权人对其异议的答复, 进一步表明异议部门会在同一时间准备下一步行动。 通告表明在大多数情况下, 下一步行动是以传票传唤当事人出席口头审理。只有当异议部门认为有必要的情况下,才会邀请异议提出者在特定时限内对专利权人的意见作出答复。虽然通告没有界定何谓有必要的情况,但很大机会当专利权人在答复内修改其专利权利要求时,异议部门将邀请异议提出者作出进一步答复。

通告列明权利人与异议部门沟通意见的时限︰ 涉及实质性事项的沟通意见答复时限为四个月, 其他沟通意见为两个月。只有在特殊情况下, 提供实质性理由的请求,才会得以批准延长答复期限的申请。

修订程序要求口头审理不早于传票发出日后的六个月进行。任何就口头审理所提出的意见和修改意见需在不迟于审理日两个月前递交。只在特殊情况下,才会批准更改期限的请求。

这次简化异议程序的目的是为异议程序的当事人和公众提供法律确定性。在执行修订程序时能否继续保持欧洲专利局的基本程序原则, 例如欧洲专利公约第113条(1)的听证权利,仍然有待观察。

最后, 异议程序的当事人已注意到有关修订加快了异议的程序, 因此律师亦应加快处理案件的速度。

请接 这里和这里了解详细的异议程序变更。

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