Portable computers such as laptops, tablets and other hand-held electronic devices have rapidly become a standard supporting tool in our society. They can perform a wide range of tasks and are increasingly used during oral proceedings before the Boards of Appeal. The use of electronic devices during oral proceedings before the Boards of Appeal has not been regulated to date, although they have generally been allowed.
In order to clarify the practice of the Boards of Appeal on the use of portable computers and other electronic devices in hearing rooms, it has been decided to inform all parties to oral proceedings and their representatives of the following:
In oral proceedings before the Boards of Appeal under Article 116 EPC the parties and their representatives are allowed to have with them and to use portable computers such as laptops, tablets or other electronic devices provided that their use does not create any nuisance or disturbance. Where, for example, the use of an electronic device disturbs the oral proceedings, the chairperson may decide to forbid its use.
Parties and their representatives are also informed that the use of recording devices of any kind is not allowed in the hearing room without the permission of the Board of Appeal (see also Notice of the Vice-President of Directorate-General 3 of the European Patent Office dated 16 July 2007 concerning sound recording devices in oral proceedings before the Boards of Appeal of the EPO; OJ EPO 2007, Special edition No. 3, 117).
Wim van der Eijk