Decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 17 December 2020 concerning oral proceedings by videoconference before examining divisions
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. 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) 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 videoconference remotely from different locations. In such cases, the members of the division will deliberate and vote among themselves via a separate communication channel. The applicant will be informed of the remote participation of the members of the examining division before the start of the oral proceedings.
(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 decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 13 May 2020 concerning the filing of documents during telephone consultations and during interviews and oral proceedings held by videoconference (OJ EPO 2020, A71).
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.
Previous decision superseded
When this decision enters into force, the decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 1 April 2020 concerning oral proceedings by videoconference before examining divisions (OJ EPO 2020, A39) will cease to have effect.
Entry into force
This decision enters into force on 4 January 2021. It applies to all oral proceedings before examining divisions scheduled to take place on or after that date.
Done at Munich, 17 December 2020