Wolfgang Neubeck and and Julie Monteil of the firm’s offices in Munich and Paris attended the first-ever oral proceedings held in an opposition proceedings against the validity of a French patent. The in-person proceedings, held January 25, 2022, took place at the French patent office INPI in Courbevoie close to Paris. The possibility to oppose a French patent was only introduced on April 1st, 2020 when the so-called law package Pacte came into force. This law package introduces the full examination of French patents and the possibility to oppose a French patent within nine months after grant.
The opposition proceedings are organized in a similar manner to opposition proceedings at the European Patent Office. One difference to EPO proceedings are short deadlines set with the parties and the opposition commission at each step of the proceedings. As a result, oral proceedings can be scheduled already after one year.
Grünecker filed one of the first oppositions on December 30, 2020, and oral proceedings were scheduled quickly for January 25, 2022.
During the course of the oral proceedings the parties exchange their arguments and the commission makes comments and asks questions to the parties before making their decision. The various grounds of opposition and auxiliary requests are discussed one after the other and the commission makes a decision at each step. At the end of the proceedings, the final decision is rendered. The course of the proceedings is thus comparable to proceedings that take place at the EPO.
The commission will render the written decision within four months. This decision can be appealed in front of the Paris Court of Appeal.
The Pacte completed the French patent examination pathway as well as introduced the streamlined opposition proceedings that provide opponents an interesting tool to quickly get an opinion about the validity of a patent.