Oral proceedings by video-conference are permitted only in the case of ex parte proceedings before an Examining Division. They are not allowed for opposition or PCT Chapter II cases or for the taking of oral evidence. Requests for them should be filed in the same way as other requests which are filed during pending proceedings.
The Examining Division should normally grant a request for oral proceedings by video-conference unless there are specific reasons for refusing it. Criteria for refusing are, for example, the unsuitability of the subject-matter of the application, the high complexity of the case, or the need to see or handle samples or models. The unavailability of video-conference rooms on the date set for the oral proceedings is also a reason for refusing the request.
If the Examining Division decides to refuse such a request, the requesting party must be informed in a communication setting out the reasons for the refusal. A purely systematic refusal, e.g. on the grounds that the video-conferencing system is not technically reliable, is not acceptable.
In case the request for oral proceedings by video-conference is made before the summons has been sent, the Division should exercise its discretion as stated above. If the subject-matter of the application is considered suitable for a video-conference, the Division should try to accommodate this wish when finding a suitable date. If the request for a video-conference cannot be granted, the reasons will be indicated in the summons to oral proceedings.
The Office also receives requests from applicants wishing to use the EPO-video-conference facilities to hold proceedings at other EPO premises (e.g. when the applicant is in Munich and the proceedings are to be held in The Hague). The EPO-video-conference facilities are for internal use only and such requests are to be refused with reference to OJ EPO 2006, 585, point 3.