The President of the European Patent Office, having regard to Articles 10(2)(a) and 116 of the European Patent Convention (EPC), has decided as follows:
Oral proceedings by videoconference before examining divisions
(1) Oral proceedings before examining divisions are to be held by videoconference.
(2) Notwithstanding paragraph 1, oral proceedings may be held on the premises of the European Patent Office, either at the request of the applicant or at the instigation of the examining division if there are serious reasons against holding the oral proceedings by videoconference such as, in particular, the need to take evidence directly. If a request to hold oral proceedings on the premises of the European Patent Office is refused, the applicant will be informed of the reasons; such a refusal is not separately appealable.
(3) Oral proceedings by videoconference are equivalent to oral proceedings held on the premises of the European Patent Office.
Remote participation from different locations
(1) Upon request, the applicant and its representative may connect to the oral proceedings by videoconference from different locations.
(2) The members of the examining division may connect to the oral proceedings by videoconference from different locations. In such cases, the members of the division will deliberate and vote among themselves by separate videoconference. The applicant will be informed of the remote participation of the members of the examining division before the start of the oral proceedings by videoconference.
(3) The venue of oral proceedings will be deemed to be the location where the examining division is set up.
Submissions during oral proceedings by videoconference
During oral proceedings by videoconference before an examining division, documents are to be filed by means of electronic communication in accordance with the relevant decision of the President of the European Patent Office.
If technical problems preventing the oral proceedings by videoconference from being conducted in accordance with the applicant's rights under Articles 113 and 116 EPC cannot be overcome during the videoconference, the examining division will issue a new summons to oral proceedings.
Non-attendance at oral proceedings by videoconference
If an applicant fails to connect to the oral proceedings by videoconference for reasons other than technical problems, the proceedings may continue in accordance with Rule 115(2) EPC.
Entry into force and transitional provisions
This decision enters into force on 2 April 2020 and applies to oral proceedings before examining divisions the summons to which is notified on or after that date. In addition, it applies to oral proceedings scheduled for a date after 17 April 2020 the summons to which indicated that they are to be held by videoconference and was already notified prior to 2 April 2020. Articles 2 to 5 also apply to oral proceedings for which a summons to oral proceedings on the premises of the European Patent Office was notified prior to 2 April 2020 and which the applicant has agreed to have held by videoconference on or after that date.
Done at Munich, 1 April 2020
Date retrieved: 19 May 2021