FAQ - Online filing

Questions

General information

Smart cards and soft certificates

Technical requirements and software/hardware issues

Where to find help

Current filing and submission issues

Tools - templates - features

Appeal proceedings

National offices

Updates

Conversion issues (PDF, PatXML)

Filing of sequence listings

Signatures

Changes as of 1.4.2015

Answers

General information


Where can I find the Online Filing software?

On the navigation bar at the top, click on “Applying for a patent”. On the next page you will see a section headed “Online Services”, and the first link under that heading is “Online filing”. Click on this link and you will find a box marked “Download software for filing with the EPO”.


How much does it cost to use the Online Filing software?

Nothing. The service is free of charge.


What do I need from the EPO to file documents online?

You need a smart card, a smart card reader (including software) and the Online Filing software itself.


Where can I get a smart card?

You can order your smart card online. You will be sent a starter kit consisting of a smart card and a smart card reader. Your smart card is valid for five years.


Can I file patent applications via the EPO webpage www.epo.org?

Yes, you can. You have two new ways of filing via our webpage:

  • new online filing (CMS)
  • web-form filing

Please follow the links below for more information:

http://www.epo.org/applying/online-services/new-online-filing.html

http://www.epo.org/applying/online-services/web-form-filing.html

What documents can I file using the Online Filing software?

With the Online Filing software you can file the following documents with the EPO: EP (EP1001E2K) and Euro-PCT (EP1200E2K) applications as well as subsequent actions including appeals (EP1038E), PCT (PCT/RO/101) and EP(Oppo) documents with the EPO. You can also file national patent applications (DE, FI, FR, GB, NL, PL, SE, SK, and so on), EP1001 and PCT/RO/101 with the relevant national patent office.


Smart cards and soft certificates


Do I need a smart card to prepare patent applications using the Online Filing software?

You do not need a smart card to prepare applications, but you do need one to sign and send your application online to the EPO and most of the national offices.


How can I verify that my smart card reader has been properly installed and that my smart card is recognised by my PC?

You can check the functioning of your smart card and certificates as follows:

Users of GemSAFE Libraries version 6.0, 6.1 or 6.3 should click on Start -> Programs -> Gemalto -> Classic Client -> Classic Client Toolbox -> Certificates. You will see the window below, with the reader icons shown:


What are soft certificates and are they accepted by the EPO?

A soft certificate is a file which contains certificates which are similar to those on a smart card but which are not stored on or secured by the chip of a smart card. The EPO does not at present accept applications signed or sent to the EPO using soft certificates using the Online Filing software. It is, however, possible to file Form PCT/RO/101 prepared using PCT-SAFE and a WIPO-issued certificate.


If I enter my PIN code incorrectly three times in succession, how do I then unlock my smart card?

Please contact us.


Technical requirements and software/hardware issues


What installation options do I have for Online Filing?

You can install the software in stand-alone or network mode. All you have to do is follow the instructions in the installation guide and the installer.

In version 5 of the software, the "Thin Client MSI" package offers the use of command lines for network installation, with "silent mode" and parameter setting.

To update the "Thin Client" module please refer to the installation guide: http://docs.epoline.org/epoline/products/olf5/OLF5_06_InstallGuide_EN_131216.pdf


What are the system requirements for stand-alone installations of Online Filing?

The recommended minimum hardware for Online Filing in stand-alone mode is as follows:

  • Pentium 4 - 2.4 GHz or better
  • 2 GB RAM or more
  • 500 MB available space on hard disk
  • USB port for smart card reader

Note: Online Filing only runs on machines with Microsoft Windows installed.


What are the system requirements for network installations of Online Filing?

The recommended minimum hardware for Online Filing in network mode (server) is as follows:

  • Pentium 4 -2.8 GHz or better
  • 2 GB RAM or more
  • 4 GB of available space on hard disk

Online Filing in stand-alone or network mode (server) can be installed on either

  • (preferred for server mode) a server PC running Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2012
  • (preferred for stand-alone mode) a PC running Windows Vista SP1, Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1

The client component of Online Filing can be installed on any of the Windows systems listed above.

Note
: Online Filing cannot run on MAC or Linux servers. The EPO does not provide support for any kind of emulation on MAC or Linux.

Note: Although Online Filing can run in a terminal emulation software, the EPO does not provide support for use of the Online Filing software with a Microsoft Windows Terminal Server, Citrix Terminal Server or any kind of terminal emulation software.


Where do I find what in the directory structure (version 5 of the Online Filing software)?

All procedures have their own directories.

Each plug-in has additional sub-directories:

\bin - holds the *.exe file and any *.bin files, to start the GUI faster

\data - holds the temporary directories per action

\config - holds all the plug-ins definitions and configurations

The \db directory contains the database files.

The \fm directory contains the file-manager files.

The DTD files are in \fop\config\dtd or a \dtd sub-directory under the plug-in directory.


Where are the configuration definitions in version 5 of the Online Filing software?

These are no longer in *.ini files and are now to be found in *.conf files with an extended parameter set.


Which Adobe Acrobat Reader versions are supported in Online Filing? Are any other PDF readers supported?

Versions 4, 5, 6.01, 7, 8, 9, 10.1 and 11 of Adobe Acrobat Reader are supported. No other PDF readers or other versions of Acrobat are supported.


How can I transfer sent applications to a new Online Filing installation on another PC?

You can do this by exporting the sent application forms from the present installation, and importing them back into the new installation. For further information, see "Exporting and Importing Forms" in the Server Manager Help.

Note: To view sent applications, see the exported zip file. All imported applications have "Draft" status.


Why do I get the error message: "OLF server can't establish database connection"?

Such error message may be related to the fact that both EPO Online Filing version 5 (build 5.0.0.053 or higher) and PCT-SAFE software are installed on your machine and PCT-SAFE software was installed or updated later than EPO OLF software. To resolve the issue, please apply the following script. The underlying problem will be fixed in one of the future releases of PCT-SAFE. In case PCT-SAFE software is not installed on your machine, please contact us in order to trouble-shoot and resolve the issue.

I keep getting the error message "Adobe Acrobat is not installed". How can I fix this?

If you want to view PDFs within a browser you have to enable the Adobe PDF plug-in. How you do this will vary depending on the type of browser you use.

For more information see chapter 10.6 of the installation guide or follow the instructions below:

Adobe Reader

Installation guide

Where to find help


If I cannot find the information I need in the Online Filing tutorial, where else can I look?

You could try the Online Filing documentation area. Alternatively, please contact us.


Where can I find help with Online Filing functions?

Whether you are in the File Manager or in a form, simply go to Help => Online Filing Help.


Current filing and submission issues


Once I have filed a European (EP(1001E2K)) or international (PCT/RO101) application or form for entry into the European phase (EP(1200E2K)) either online or on paper, can I then send subsequent documents to the EPO online?

Yes, you can file subsequent communications in the EP procedure online using Form EP(1038E). Priority documents are excluded, with the exception of digitally signed US certified copies of priority documents, which can be obtained from the USPTO website.

For the online filing of subsequently filed documents in the PCT procedure please use PCT-SFD.

Alternatively you can file via new online filing (CMS) or web-form filing.


Is there any way of finding out exactly what the EPO has received as a result of my Online Filing?

Yes, in the File Manager go to the "All Applications" folder, then select Sent from the status selection bar. In the Info Pane click the View... button. This will display all the sent documents, including the receipt. These documents can be exported and saved in PDF or XML format.


I get a yellow or red validation message when I try to attach PDF files to my PCT application. What should I do?

The rules on attaching PDF files are even stricter under the PCT procedure than under the EP procedure, so please ensure that your PDF documents meet the following requirements:

  • Adobe Portable Document Format Version 1.4 compatible
  • non-compressed text to facilitate searching
  • unencrypted text
  • no embedded OLE objects
  • all fonts embedded and licensed for distribution

If the problem persists, contact us or WIPO direct.

To ensure that the PDF you have created will be accepted by the Online Filing software, you can use the Amyuni PDF converter. Please contact us about this.


More information about PDF, TIFF and JPG formats on the WIPO website


Every time I try to attach a PDF document to my EP filing I get the following error message: "The PDF file you tried to attach does not comply with Annex F standard. Some fonts used in it have not been embedded". What should I do?

To guarantee compliance, you should ensure that your PDF generator and resulting PDFs meet the following criteria:

  • all fonts are embedded (exception: Base 14 fonts are accepted even if they are not embedded)
  • the page size is A4 +/- 5%
  • the PDF is not encrypted
  • it does not contain colour or grey scale images and drawings
  • the PDF is Version 1.1 (or later)
  • the PDF does not contain embedded OLE objects

If you are generating PDFs from paper documents using your company scanner you should adjust the settings of your scanner accordingly.

PDF files containing a combination of landscape and portrait formats are accepted.

PDFs should not be signed (exception: certified copies of US priority documents). Note: US priority documents can be submitted in A4 format only.

The EPO Online Filing client may sometimes detect non-compliancy with Annex F in error and reject the file. It may also reject files which marginally exceed the permitted dimensions for A4 (PDF sizes up to 312 x 227 mm (A4 +5%) or 12.28 x 8.94" (letter +5%) are accepted).

To ensure that the PDF files you create will be accepted by the Online Filing software you can also use the Amyuni PDF converter. Please contact us to obtain this.

  • Download software for filing with the EPO

  • When I try to submit an application online I get a "TunnelProxy connect error" or "Can't connect: No Error (Error #0)" message. What does this mean?

    It means that either you have not specified your proxy details in the File Manager or Server Manager or your proxy server has not been enabled to allow SSL tunnelling under HTTPS. Please check the proxy settings defined in the Server Manager.


    A Supplementary International Search Report (SISR) was drawn up by a Supplementary International Searching Authority (SISA) under the PCT. Where can I indicate this on the Online Filing form for entry into the European phase (Euro-PCT (1200E2K))?

    You can indicate that one or more Supplementary International Search Reports were drawn up in the international phase by mentioning the relevant Supplementary International Searching Authority (SISA) or Authorities in the "Annotations" tab on Form Euro-PCT (1200E2K). A copy of the Supplementary International Search Report does not need to be filed, as it will be transmitted directly to the EPO by WIPO.

    Note: A possible fee reduction for a supplementary European search can be indicated by manually editing the "Reduction" column in "Fee selection" under the "Fee Payment" tab.


    How do I fill in the field "Number of claims you intend to pay for" in form 1200?

    The new feature in Form 1200 or 1001 can be filled in as follows;

    If you are not paying for any additional claims, enter "0" as stated in the validation panel of the Online filing software (see above).

    If you are paying for additional claims, enter the number (including the first 15 that are free), if you already know how many you want to pay for.

    If you do not yet know how many, enter "0". You will then be able to pay later, once you do know how many claims the application ends up with.

    Please note: If you choose the fee payment option “Automatic debit order”, all fees will be debited automatically when due, and this field is disregarded.


    I would like to file a Form 1038e online via the Online Filing software and pay the examination fee with the 20% reduction and a date of filing or regional phase entry before 1 April 2014, requesting examination in a non-EPO language. How do I do this?

    To be able to pay the examination fee under the old fee system (before 1 April 2014), in the “Fee selection” tab you need to click the “Edit fee amount” box and manually insert 20% in the “Reduction” column.

     


    Amendment of Rule 6 EPC (fee reduction): Where in the course of online filing do I declare as of 1 April 2014 that I am an entity within the meaning of paragraph 4? What type of proof am I supposed to provide? How does the EPO define small and medium-sized enterprises?

    A notice on the amendment of Rule 6 EPC setting out the eligibility criteria for the fee reduction and providing information on the new procedure will be published in the Official Journal of the EPO in February.

    To confirm that you are an entity within the meaning of Rule 6(4) EPC, simply tick the appropriate check box in the online form.

    You are only required to supply proof (e.g. extracts from the Commercial Register or articles of association) at the EPO's express request.

    As stated in the Administrative Council's decision of 13 December 2013 (CA/D 19/13), the definition of small and medium-sized enterprises applied is the one in the Commission's Recommendation 2003/361/EC of 6 May 2003 as published in the Official Journal of the European Union L124, p. 36 on 20 May 2003 (Rule 6(5) EPC in OJ EPO 2014, A4, published online on 31 January 2014).


    Tools - templates - features


    Can I create user profiles for Online Filing and assign particular privileges to them?

    Yes, you can. User profiles can be created within the File Manager under Tools => User Administration.


    Can I import/export my address book into Online Filing?

    Yes. In the File Manager go to Tools => Address Book and then select File => Import/Export.


    Do I have to list individually in XML format all designated states I want to import from my patent management system (version 5 of the software)?

    No. In version 5, you can simply use "Region/EP" to designate all states.


    How can I create a blank template for an international application (PCT/RO/101) in Online Filing?

    To create a blank template for an international application, you need to create a "New Draft" in the File Manager and then save it as a template. Saving a blank template for an international application via the "New template" function will not work in Online Filing V4, as PCT applications are created in V2.10 technology.


    I have created a template and attached a document in Online Filing. When I create an instance of that template later, the attachment is gone. What do I have to do?

    Follow these steps:

    Create a new application => attach the file(s) => save the application => close the application => go back to the File Manager => select the application => right mouse click => choose "convert to template" => confirm popup => go to the Templates folder => double click the converted application => enter user reference => the form opens and the attachment is available.


    With the network installation of Online Filing, can more than one person work on the same application at the same time?

    No. It is possible for several users to access the same folder at the same time, but individual applications can only be accessed by one person at a time. When a user opens an application, the application is internally blocked for opening by other users. Other users attempting to open the application will see a message asking them to try again later or to open it in read-only mode.


    What is the difference between exporting via the File Manager and using the Server Manager in Online Filing?

    When exporting an application, the File Manager only exports the relevant files. When exporting from the Server Manager, all files relating to an application are exported, including those that contain meta data such as, for example, "Last Saved". This meta data is contained in a separate file which is for Online Filing internal use only. That is why, when archiving sent applications, it is recommended to export them from the Server Manager.


    Appeal proceedings


    If I want to file documents online in appeal proceedings, which form should I use?

    Documents in appeal proceedings should preferably be filed using Form EP(1038).


    Besides the appellants themselves, can Form EP (1038) be used by any other party to the appeal proceedings?

    Yes, Form EP (1038) can be used by any of the parties to appeal proceedings. The role of the party concerned will be clear from the nature of the document being filed.


    Documents filed online in appeal proceedings must be authenticated by a person authorised to act in the proceedings using an enhanced electronic signature. What is the procedure in the event of multiple signatories?

    If there are multiple signatories to a particular filing, they should use either a facsimile signature or a text-string signature. The last person to sign should verify the authenticity of the document by applying an enhanced electronic signature. This procedure is legally valid as long as this last person is authorised to act in the proceedings.


    National offices


    Where can I find national plug-ins for Online Filing?

    National plug-ins can be downloaded either from this website or from the website of the national office concerned. All currently available national plug-ins are automatically installed by the latest full installation of Online Filing. See the installation guide for information on how to activate/deactivate them in version 5 ("Other procedures").


    I am trying to file an application with a particular national patent office using the Online Filing software but I keep getting an error message. What should I do?

    For any issues relating to the filing of national applications please contact the national office concerned.


    Payments to the German Patent Office (DPMA)

    With effect from 1 December 2013 the German Patent Office has implemented the SEPA Core Direct Debit Scheme as payment method. The changes and SEPA forms required to use this scheme are now integrated in the DE2007 software update available on our website.

    Download the DE2007 software update


    Updates


    Can I be automatically notified when new software is released, so that I can ensure that my maintenance tables, e.g. fees or member states, are always up to date?

    Yes. Users wishing to be kept up to date about new software versions, updates, patches and fixes can sign up for our RSS feeds.

    You can also enable the Live Update functionality in the Server Manager. Go to Settings => Live Update Proxy and select "Enable software update system". You should also ensure that you have enabled the respective EPC contracting state by ticking the checkbox next to it under Tools => Preferences => System Preferences => Countries. If Live Update is enabled, updates for the EP, PCT and selected national office procedures will be initiated automatically.

    You can select the interval at which you would like your software to check for updates by specifying the number of days in "Check for update every XX day(s)". The system will then notify you at the selected interval if any new software has been released. We recommend setting the interval to "1" as it will then check once a day, the first time you start the software. You can enter your own and/or anybody else's e-mail address in the Server Manager Settings tab. Everybody on that list will then be sent an automatically generated e-mail whenever a new Live Update is available.

    It is important to bear in mind that you first need to download the updates before you can install them. Downloading on its own is not sufficient to complete the process of updating. You must also install them in order to effectively apply the update to the Online Filing software.

    Note: Please also read the restrictions concerning Live Update.

    • Live Update

    I have received the following message related to the Live Update function for Online Filing. What do I have to do?

    This means that Live Update was not correctly configured. Please refer to our installation guide in order to configure Live Update:

    http://docs.epoline.org/epoline/products/olf5/OLF5_06_InstallGuide_EN_131216.pdf


    Conversion issues (PDF, PatXML)


    How can I convert my documents into PDF attachments for Online Filing?

    Within the document, go to File => Print and select the Amyuni PDF Converter from the list of printers, then click OK. You will need to give the resulting PDF file a name. The Amyuni PDF Converter is set up as a regular printer and can convert data from any software with printing ability.

    You can also use any other PDF converter as long as the resulting PDFs comply with the Annex F standard. By using the Amyuni PDF converter, you can always be sure that your documents are Annex-F-compliant.

    The Amyuni is not automatically installed on your machine when you do a Thin Client installation. But you can install it from the Online Filing installation CD and use it free of charge. If you no longer have the installation CD, please contact us.


    How can I create patent applications in XML?

    You can use PatXML, a software tool which allows you to use Microsoft Word to create EP and PCT patent applications in XML (eXtensible Markup Language) format (technical documents only).


    What is the pre-conversion archive in Online Filing?

    In the pre-conversion archive you can add the documents (description, claims, abstract, drawings) that you have attached to your application in PDF or XML format in their original format (e.g. MS Word) in a .zip file.


    Could you please provide me with the link to the new version of Amyuni PDF converter?

    The new version 5.0.0.3 of the Amyuni PDF converter has now been released to production. This version is password protected therefore in order to receive the password please contact us


    Filing of sequence listings


    How can I file nucleotide and/or amino acid sequence listings in accordance with Annex C/WIPO Standard ST.25 text format as part of an international application?

    Tick the field "The description contains a sequence listing" in "Biology" on form PCT/RO/101.

    Proceed to "Contents". Attach a sequence listing in accordance with Annex C/WIPO Standard ST.25 text format (*.app or *.txt) as part of an international application filed in electronic form, without attaching the sequence listing in *.pdf format.

    Set the number of pages of the attachment (*.app or *.txt) to zero, so that the sequence listing is not added to the number of pages to be paid.


    Signatures


    Is it acceptable for attorneys who are not professional representatives to sign a letter attached as a PDF file when doing an EP subsequent filing in EPO Online Filing if a professional representative signs the filing electronically?

    The formalities officers will look at the smart card signature. That means that if the letter bears the signature of a non-EP attorney, this will be disregarded because with online filings the important signature is the one at the point of electronic signing of Form 1038, by means of a smart card or a text-string (alphabetical) or facsimile signature. This signature (the electronic one) is the one that has to be performed by a professional representative.


    We would like to file the EP fee sheet using EPO Online Filing. Which type of signature should we use?

    We offer several ways of filing online, as indicated in the comparison table.

    When using the online filing software you can sign by means of a smart card or a text-string (alphabetical) or facsimile signature.

    More information

    When filing via CMS you can sign by means of a text-string or facsimile signature, but you will need a smart card to log in.

    When filing via the web-form filing service you can also sign by means of a text-string or facsimile signature, and no smart card is needed.

    More information


    We would like to send documents by fax. Which type of signature should we use?

    When filing by fax or post please always provide a physical signature (which could also be a pasted scan of the signature).


    According to Article 7(1) of the Decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 26 February 2009 concerning the electronic filing of documents (OJ EPO 2009, 182), where filed documents require signature, subject to Article 8 this may take the form of a text string signature. Does the text string signature for the relevant signatory have to be deposited with the EPO in order to provide evidence of his identity? If not, can a different text string signature be selected for each document? Do other rules apply to using the text string signature?

    No, you do not have to deposit a text string signature with the EPO. However, you must be registered as a professional representative before the EPO for this signature to be accepted. The same applies to the other two signature options in Online Filing (smart card signature and facsimile signature).

    You must provide a new signature every time you file a document.

    More information


    Do some documents require a handwritten signature and, if so, which?

    Documents do not require a handwritten signature in Online Filing. If you so wish, you may however sign your documents with a facsimile signature or choose one of the other two options (smart card signature or text string signature).

    More information


    Changes as of 1.4.2015


    Can I request automatic debiting for fees due in proceedings under the PCT?

    Yes. As of 1 April 2015 this feature will be available in the Online Filing software for:

    • PCT demands (Form PCT/IPEA/401)
    • PCT-SFD (subsequently filed document) plug-ins

    where the EPO is acting in its capacity as receiving Office (RO), International Searching Authority (ISA) or International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA).

    This feature will be available for PCT/RO/101 once you install the 1 July 2015 update for the Online filing software.

    You can find it under the “Mode of payment” dropdown menu in the “Payment” tab.


    How can I request automatic debiting for applications filed online using Form PCT/RO/101?

    You can request automatic debiting

    • when filing Form PCT/RO/101
    • when filing a PCT subsequently filed document (SFD)
    • via Online Fee Payment

    For my online PCT filing, I chose “automatic debit” as mode of payment. I have now received a search report informing me that the invention lacks unity. How do I make sure I pay the right number of search fees?

    You should inform the EPO via the PCT-SFD (subsequently filed document) plug-in how many independent inventions you want it to search.

    If you fail to reply, all the additional search fees due will be debited automatically from your deposit account.


    For my online PCT filing, I chose “automatic debit” as mode of payment. I have now received an international preliminary examination report informing me that the invention lacks unity. How do I make sure I pay the right number of examination fees?

    You should inform the EPO via the PCT-SFD (subsequently filed document) plug-in how many independent inventions you want it to examine.

    If you fail to reply, all the additional examination fees due will be debited automatically from your deposit account.


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