OJ EPO 2021, A5 - Notice from the European Patent Office dated 26 December 2020 concerning the expansion of electronic notification via the Mailbox

The EPO is committed to enabling electronic notification of all communications, to all parties and in all proceedings. It has further strengthened its efforts to achieve this goal given the disruptions caused by COVID-19.

Electronic notification of a range of communications, summonses and decisions issued in proceedings before the EPO is provided through the EPO Mailbox. The Mailbox clearly displays the type of document received as well as its date of transmission and receipt. An integrated, configurable folder system facilitates file management.

With regard to communications issued in respect of Euro-direct applications and PCT applications that have entered the European phase, users are reminded that an electronic document is deemed to be notified on the tenth day after its transmission to the Mailbox (Rule 127(2) EPC). The 10-day ʺsafeguardʺ thus applies to both electronic and postal notifications (Rule 126(2) EPC). [ 1 ]

With regard to the international phase, users are also reminded that the date of issuance of a communication is decisive for the computation of time limits (Rule 80.6 PCT). Immediate and secure access to communications issued by the EPO via the Mailbox is therefore a major benefit for users.

This notice contains information on the extension of the Mailbox service to legal practitioners and applicants with effect from 1 February 2021 (section I) and on the list of communications that will be notified via the Mailbox with effect from 1 April 2021 (section II).

I. Legal practitioners and applicants – registration as from 1 February 2021

1. Representation in any proceedings before the EPO under either the EPC or the PCT may be undertaken, ʺin the same way as by a professional representative, by any legal practitioner qualified in a Contracting State and having his place of business in that State, to the extent that he is entitled in that State to act as a professional representative in patent mattersʺ (Article 134(8) EPC, Article 150(2) EPC in conjunction with Articles 27(7) and 49 PCT and Rules 90 and 83 PCT).

2. Legal practitioners within the meaning of Article 134(8) EPC may register for the Mailbox service with effect from 1 February 2021. Registration for the Mailbox can only become effective once the Legal Division of the EPO has established that the legal practitioner fulfils the requirements of Article 134(8) EPC (OJ EPO 2013, 600; J 27/95). Legal practitioners are reminded that they must file a signed authorisation or a reference to a general authorisation for each application in which they wish to act (Special edition No. 3, OJ EPO 2007, L.1., Article 2).

3. For legal practitioners wishing to act in procedures before the EPO in the international phase, point 2 applies irrespective of whether the international application was filed with the EPO as receiving Office or with the receiving Office of an EPC contracting state. Once the conditions set out in point 2 have been met, legal practitioners acting in such procedures will receive notifications issued by the EPO in the international phase via the Mailbox.

4. Also with effect from 1 February 2021, applicants who have their residence or principal place of business in an EPC contracting state may also register for the Mailbox service, irrespective of whether they are acting under the EPC or the PCT (Article 133(1) and (2) EPC and Article 150(2) EPC in conjunction with Articles 27(7) and 49 PCT).

5. Following registration and activation of the Mailbox service (see point 6 below), legal practitioners and applicants from the EPC contracting states will receive the notifications indicated in point 8 below via the Mailbox in proceedings under the EPC and the PCT.

6. For details on how to request registration for the Mailbox, and a tutorial on how to use it, go to www.epo.org/applying/online-services/mailbox.html.

II. Addition of communications notified via the Mailbox as from 1 April 2021

7. The range of communications that can be electronically notified via the Mailbox service will be further expanded with effect from 1 April 2021.

8. A list of the communications being added on 1 April 2021, as well as a full list of the communications that will be notified electronically via the Mailbox with effect from 1 April 2021, can be found at www.epo.org/applying/online-services/mailbox/updates.html.



[ 1 ] For further details, see the Notice of the European Patent Office dated 30 March 2015, OJ EPO 2015, A36.

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