As worldwide interest in its online services continues to grow, the European Patent Office (EPO) would like to clarify the smart-card usage possibilities available to persons not resident in an EPC contracting state.
For some services and means of electronic communication offered by the EPO, a smart card issued or accepted by the EPO is required. [ 1 ] These include in particular:
- EPO online filing, [ 2 ]
- new online filing (CMS) [ 3 ] and
- online fee payment via online services. [ 4 ]
These services and means of electronic communication can be used in both the European and international phase, in accordance with the relevant decisions.
Smart cards are technical aids the possession of which is a precondition for using the above-mentioned services and means of electronic communication. However, they do not entitle their holders to perform procedural acts for which they must be represented by a professional representative before the EPO.
To file a European patent application, pay fees and fulfil the requirements for entry into the European phase within the 31-month time limit under Rule 159 EPC, it is not necessary to use a professional representative. This applies also to natural and legal persons who have neither their residence nor place of business in an EPC contracting state.
Exceptions to representation requirements apply also in the international phase (see Articles 27(7) and 49 and Rule 90 PCT). In particular, any person entitled to act before the International Bureau or the national or regional office with which the international application was filed may be appointed by the applicant as his agent to represent him before the receiving Office, the International Bureau and the competent (Supplementary) International Searching Authority and competent International Preliminary Examining Authority.
EPO practice therefore is to issue smart cards, on request, also to individuals whose place of residence, business or employment is not in an EPC contracting state.
Smart cards can be requested online via the EPO website (). [ 5 ]
[ 1 ] For a list of the electronic-signature certificates accepted by the EPO, see Article 1(3) of the decision of the President dated 12 July 2007 concerning the electronic signatures, data carriers and software to be used for the electronic filing of patent applications and other documents (special edition No. 3, OJ EPO 2007, A.5).
[ 2 ] Articles 7 and 8 of the decision of the President dated 10 November 2015 concerning the electronic filing of documents (OJ EPO 2015, A91), in conjunction with Article 1 of the decision of the President dated 12 July 2007 concerning the electronic signatures, data carriers and software to be used for the electronic filing of patent applications and other documents (special edition No. 3, OJ EPO 2007, A.5).
[ 5 ] Currently under Home > Applying for a patent > Online services > Security > Applying for a smart card.
Date retrieved: 19 May 2021