The so-called “10-day rule”, a quirk of European patent practice, is soon only a memory. The 10-day rule introduced the long-standing notion that an official communication from the European Patent Office (EPO) is deemed to be notified 10 days after the date of the communication. Hence, as many of the deadlines set by the EPO are calculated from notification of the relevant communication, the 10-day rule has played an important role in how deadlines are calculated. However, this will no longer be the case.
As of today, the 1 November 2023, official communications from the European Patent Office will be deemed to be notified on the same day as they are dated. For example, an official action dated 4 November 2023 and setting a 4-month term from notification for response, will thus have a due date for response on 4 March 2024, rather than on 14 March as would have been the case had the 10-day rule still applied.
Notably, the change only affects communications dated on or after 1 November 2023. That is, for communications dated before 1 November 2023, the 10-day rule still applies. Thus, for a communication dated on, for example, 29 October 2023 and setting a 4-month term from notification of the communication, the 10-day rule would still apply resulting in a due date of 8 March 2024.
Clients used to the 10-day rule are urged to take notice of this change, and to take extra care when calculating deadlines and providing instructions close to said deadlines.