Central Division Paris on Time Extension Requests – Upholding Stringency even in “Exceptional” Circumstances?

Case Overview

In a notable decision dated February 9, 2024, the Central Division in Paris addressed a patent owner's last-minute plea for an extension of the deadline to respond to a nullity action against European Patent EP 2 796 333. The request, filed on the final day of the initial deadline, January 25, 2024, cited multiple challenges, including the absence of attachments with the delivered nullity claim, CMS access issues verified on December 19, 2023, and the illness of the long-serving European Patent Attorney. Despite these claims, the request for an extension until February 29, 2024, was firmly rejected by the court.

Legal Reasoning and Decision 

The court's refusal to grant the extension was anchored in the principles of proportionality, flexibility, fairness, and equity, as highlighted in the preamble of the Rules of Procedure (RoP) and further supported by precedent (UFC CFI 363/2023 LD Düsseldorf). 

Specifically, the Central Division found that:

  • The delivery of the nullity action without attachments did not invalidate the initiation of the response period, as the claim itself was deemed sufficiently comprehensible.
  • The difficulties experienced with CMS access and the subsequent delay in obtaining case documents did not justify an extension, as alternative measures to contact the court or registry should have been pursued.
  • The illness of the patent attorney, while unfortunate, lacked substantiated evidence to warrant procedural leniency.
  • Critically, the court viewed the timing of the extension request on the last permissible day - despite prior awareness of the issues - as a breach of fairness.


This ruling underscores the Unified Patent Court's stringent approach to procedural deadlines, emphasizing that extensions will only be considered under truly exceptional and well-substantiated circumstances. It highlights the expectation for legal representatives to act promptly and utilize available measures to adhere to the procedural timelines.

Key Takeaways:

  • Timeliness and Preparedness: Legal representatives must anticipate potential obstacles and act swiftly to mitigate them, ensuring readiness to proceed within the established deadlines.
  • Evidence and Justification: Requests for deadline extensions must be accompanied by compelling, evidence-backed reasons to deviate from the strict procedural regime.
  • Procedural Fairness: The principles of fairness and equity dictate that extensions are exceptional remedies, not fallback options for last-minute requests.

This case serves as a critical reminder for parties engaged in UPC litigation to maintain diligence and proactive case management to navigate the court's procedural demands effectively.