Conditions for filing by e-mail, in proceedings under the EPC, after an application has been published

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In accordance with the decision of the President of the European Patent Office (EPO) dated 4 July 2012 concerning the pilot project to introduce new technical means of communication in EPO proceedings (OJ EPO 2012, 486), and in particular its Article 6, documents in proceedings under the EPC may, without prejudice to the other means of filing documents1 , be filed by e mail after publication of the application with effect from 17 December 2012 and subject to the applicable regulations and the present conditions.

1. Persons to whom filing by e-mail is available

The option of filing by e-mail is available, at the invitation of the EPO and following registration, to selected users. To register, users must supply an e-mail address.

2. Documents that can be filed by e-mail

2.1 From the date of publication of the patent application (Article 93 EPC), documents filed in proceedings under the EPC, with the exception of opposition, limitation and revocation proceedings (Articles 99 to 105c EPC) and of appeal proceedings (Articles 106 to 112a EPC), may be filed by e-mail.

2.2 Documents may not be filed by e-mail in any other cases; if they are filed nonetheless, they will be deemed not to have been received. Their sender, if identifiable, will be notified without delay.

2.3 Point 2.2 also applies to priority documents, unless they have been digitally signed by the issuing authority and the signature is accepted by the EPO.

3. Formal requirements

3.1 When filing by e-mail, the sender must use the e-mail address he supplied on registration, and send the e-mail to the address supplied by the EPO.

3.2 Documents sent from or to e-mail addresses other than those stipulated in point 3.1 will be deemed not to have been received.

3.3 The documents referred to in Rule 50(1) EPC may be filed only in the form of file attachments to the e-mail. The application number must be indicated in the subject line.

3.4 Attachments should be filed in PDF, in accordance with the Administrative Instructions under the PCT, Part 7 and Annex F, or as word processing documents in Office Open XML document format (e.g. DOCX); other file formats may be used subject to Article 3 of the decision of the President of the EPO 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 3, OJ EPO 2007, A.5.).

3.5 E-mails, including their attachments, may be no larger than six megabytes and may not contain any executable attachments (including .scr, .cmd, .com, .exe and .dll files) or be encrypted, password-protected or infected with a computer virus or contain other malware; such e mails will not be transmitted and will be deemed not to have been received.

4. Signature

Where a document is filed via e-mail, a reproduction of the filing person's signature or an indication of the filing person's name will suffice under Rule 2(2) EPC to confirm the document's authenticity. The filing person's name and position must be clearly indicated.

5. Date of receipt of documents

The date of receipt accorded to documents filed by e-mail is the date on which they are received at the EPO.

6. Acknowledgement of receipt

6.1 The receipt of documents filed by e-mail will be acknowledged electronically once the files have been transmitted, unless the e mail has not been transmitted for failure to comply with point 3.5.

6.2 Receipt is acknowledged by e-mail sent to the sender's registered address.

7. Illegible or incomplete documents and infected files

7.1. Where a filed document is illegible or incomplete, that part of it which is illegible or incomplete will be deemed not to have been received.

7.2 If e-mails received or documents filed are infected with a computer virus or contain other malware, they will be deemed to be illegible. The EPO is not obliged to open or process such e-mails or documents.

7.3 Where a filed document is found to be deficient within the meaning of points 7.1 or 7.2, the sender, if identifiable, is notified without delay.

8. Confirmation in paper form

Documents filed by e-mail do not need to be confirmed in paper form.

9. Confidentiality

The EPO cannot ensure the confidentiality of documents filed by e-mail while they are being transmitted.

10. Earlier notices superseded

To the extent that the above conditions apply in accordance with the decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 4 July 2012, the notice dated 12 September 2000 concerning correspondence with the Office via e-mail (OJ EPO 2000, 458) no longer applies.

11. Previous version

The previous version of these conditions for filing by e-mail dated 11.12.2012 is set aside with the publication of this version.
 

Raimund Lutz
Vice-President

08.05.2013


1 See also the decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 20 April 2012 concerning the filing of documents by e-mail during interviews and oral proceedings held as a video conference, OJ EPO 2012, 348.

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