EPO: The EPO moves further towards oral proceedings via video conference
Managing IP is part of Legal Benchmarking Limited, 4 Bouverie Street, London, EC4Y 8AX
Copyright © Legal Benchmarking Limited and its affiliated companies 2024

Accessibility | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Modern Slavery Statement

EPO: The EPO moves further towards oral proceedings via video conference

Sponsored by

inspicos-400px.png
Photo of white blank screen laptop, black coffee cup and coasters on the wooden working desk over blurred modern cafe background.

At the beginning of 1998, the EPO began allowing oral proceedings to be held as a video conference (OJ EPO 1997, 572). Video conferencing was only available for oral proceedings held before an examining division, i.e. prior to grant of the European patent. Oral proceedings before examining divisions are more suited to video conferencing as they are usually shorter and less complex than opposition oral proceedings, they are not open to the public, and only one party is present (the patent applicant).

Until now, there has not been an opportunity for oral proceedings to be held before the opposition division. However, in a Notice from the EPO dated April 14 2020, the EPO announced a pilot project in which oral proceedings could take place via video conference before opposition divisions.

Many of the requirements in the Notice for requesting and arranging oral proceedings via video conference in opposition proceedings remain the same as those established for examination oral proceedings. However, opposition oral proceedings will not be held via video conference if witnesses are to be heard, or if simultaneous interpretation between the official EPO languages is needed.

The pilot project allows examiners, parties to the proceedings and their representatives to participate from different locations. Exchange of written documents is to take place via email. Any technical problems which mean that parties cannot be adequately represented may result in a new summons to oral proceedings being issued.

Opposition oral proceedings are generally open to the public, according to Article 116(4) EPC. This, of course, poses issues when oral proceedings are held via video conference. The EPO will allow members of the public to watch opposition oral proceedings via a video link to a dedicated room at the EPO's offices. The opportunity will also be given for members of the public to connect to the video conference remotely. It remains to be seen whether these solutions are acceptable for those wishing to observe opposition oral proceedings.

This pilot project started on May 4 2020 and is due to run until April 30 2021.

Edward Farrington

more from across site and ros bottom lb

More from across our site

Based on surveys covering more than 25,000 in-house lawyers, the series provides insights into what law firms must score highly on when pitching to in-house counsel
We provide a rundown of Managing IP’s news and analysis from the week, and review what’s been happening elsewhere in IP
Tony Nguyen, who returned to Fish & Richardson this month after a year travelling overseas, tells Managing IP how and why he took the plunge
Tom Treutler, who previously managed the Vietnamese office of Tilleke & Gibbins, has joined East IP
Counsel discuss upcoming AI and data privacy legislation and what they’ve learned since Chile joined the Madrid Protocol
INTA has postponed its planned Annual Meeting in Dubai, but the organisation should think carefully about whether it wants to go there at all
The firm has named its new managing director after its former Asia head resigned earlier this year
As law firms explore how best to support clients at the UPC, members of the UPCLA network believe they have found the best of both worlds
The Industry Patent Quality Charter hosted a conference in which it discussed the importance of granting high-quality patents
Julia Holden explains why, if she weren’t in IP, she would be directing and producing live English-language theatre
Gift this article