The EPO's Legal Division (Dir. 5.2.3) has sole responsibility for entries in and deletions from the list of professional representatives before the EPO (see Decision of the President of the EPO dated 21 November 2013 concerning the responsibilities of the Legal Division, OJ EPO 2013, 600). The Legal Division points out that it is in the interest of all concerned that the list is kept up to date at all times.
Under Article 134(2) EPC, any natural person who
(a) is a national of a contracting state,
(b) has his place of business or employment in a contracting state and
(c) has passed the European qualifying examination
may be entered on the list of professional representatives.
Legal practitioners entitled to act as representatives before the EPO are not entered on the list of professional representatives (see decision J 18/99 dated 1 October 2002, Reasons 5.2).
In accordance with Article 134(7) EPC, the Vice-President in charge of DG 5 is entitled to grant exemption from requirements (a) and (c) of Article 134(2) EPC (see Decision of the President of the EPO dated 1 December 2011 delegating his powers to decide on requests for exemption from requirements for entry on the list of professional representatives, OJ EPO 2012, 13).
As far as the accession of new contracting states is concerned, see Article 134(3) EPC.
According to Article 134a(2) EPC, any person entered on the list of professional representatives referred to in Article 134(1) EPC is automatically a member of the Institute of Professional Representatives before the European Patent Office (Institute).
For information regarding the re-entry of a deleted professional representative, see point IV.
An amendment to an entry must be communicated in writing to the Legal Division.
In particular, the Legal Division must be informed without
delay of any change to the business address, i.e. the address under which the
professional representative is entered on the list. Professional
representatives are listed with their last known address until they themselves
submit a request to change their address or be deleted from the list. It is the responsibility of the representative to notify
the Legal Division without delay of any change of address, as failure to do so
may prevent correct notification of official communications.
A professional representative's former employer is also entitled to forward the representative's new contact data to the EPO; a request for change of address however must be submitted by the professional representative himself. If the employer has hitherto paid the annual membership fee to the Institute, he should notify the Institute of the cancellation of the direct debiting mandate for this fee.
If the change affects your membership of an association of professional representatives, it must be requested separately using EPO Form 52305 (Request for changes relating to an association of professional representatives). For further information regarding associations of professional representatives, see notice from the European Patent Office dated 28 August 2013 on matters concerning representation before the EPO.
A deletion may be carried out for the reasons set out in Rule 154 EPC.
If no new representative is appointed in pending proceedings before the EPO, all communications from the EPO following deletion of the professional representative are notified directly to the party concerned (applicant/proprietor/opponent/intervener).
1. Deletion on request
Under Article 134a(2) EPC, any person entered on the list of professional representatives is automatically a member of the Institute. Hence to withdraw from membership of the Institute, an explicit request for deletion from the list of professional representatives must be made in accordance with Rule 154(1) EPC. This request must be sent in writing to the Legal Division and, in particular, be signed by the professional representative himself
Deletion from the list of professional representatives simultaneously terminates membership of the Institute. The Institute is notified of the deletion by the EPO.
A professional representative's former employer is entitled to forward the representative's new contact data to the EPO; a request for deletion however must be submitted by the professional representative himself. If the employer has hitherto paid the membership fee to the Institute, he should notify the Institute of the cancellation of the direct debiting mandate for this fee.
The annual subscription to the Institute is not payable if deletion is requested before 1 April.
2. Ex officio deletion
2.1 Non-payment of the annual subscription to the Institute (Rule
154(1) EPC, second alternative)
Under Rule 154(1) EPC, the entry of a professional representative will be deleted from the list if, despite repeated reminders, he fails to pay the Institute the annual subscription by the end of September of the year for which the subscription is due. If the annual subscription is not paid and a request for deletion is not made, an ex officio deletion will be carried out. The annual subscription to the Institute however remains due.
By submitting a request for deletion in due time, a professional representative can avoid paying the annual subscription (see Articles 4 and 6 of the Rules governing payment of the annual subscription), as well as cut out a considerable administrative burden for the Institute and the EPO.
2.2 Death or legal incapacity of the professional representative (Rule 154(2)(a) EPC)
The death or legal incapacity of a professional representative may be reported to the Legal Division by a third party.
In such cases, appropriate evidence must be supplied (e.g. death certificate, power of attorney). The date of death is essential information for the EPO. If it is not known, the professional representative may have to be deleted for a different reason, e.g. for non-payment of the annual subscription. To this end, the Institute should be informed of the cancellation of the direct debiting mandate.
2.3 Change of
nationality or of place of business or employment (Rule 154(2)(b) and (c) EPC)
The Legal Division must be informed without delay if the conditions set out in Article 134(2)(a) or (b) EPC cease to be satisfied, in which case the professional representative's entry on the list will be deleted in accordance with Rule 154(2)(b) or (c) EPC. To avoid ex officio deletion, it is advisable to request deletion under Rule 154(1) EPC.
A person whose entry has been deleted will, upon request, be re-entered on the list of professional representatives if the conditions for deletion no longer exist (Rule 154(3) EPC). In particular, any outstanding annual subscription to the Institute must be paid.