User area services – call for pilot participants

We are looking for volunteers to actively participate in the pilot of the EPO's new user area.

Under Goal 2 of the Strategic Plan 2023 the EPO is working towards a digital transformation that will deliver new online tools to better address user needs. Key initiative 3 (Develop new online user engagement) includes the introduction of a new user area on our website.

What is the user area?

The user area will bring several services, including electronic notification in EPO proceedings and ways to view and manage patent application portfolios, together in one place and offer a modern, simplified approach to procedural submissions.

It is designed to improve the exchange of digital information, simplify procedures, and enable more direct interaction with EPO examiners on files.

It will initially be accessed from the epo.org website using an existing smart card, but more options will become available in future.

We will be developing the services available via the user area progressively between now and 2023.

What is the scope of the user area pilot?

Pilot participants will be invited to use and give feedback on the following services:

Mailbox services

Pilot participants will be able to access Mailbox from the user area. It will still be possible to access Mailbox in the existing way.

Application portfolio services

Pilot participants will be able to do the following in the user area:

  • view their application portfolio;
  • perform procedural acts within the prescribed period in reply to a communication from the EPO - initially only in reply to the communication about the intention to grant (Rule71(3) EPC), but as the pilot progresses in response to other EPO communications too;
  • file procedural requests;
  • submit documents accompanying these acts and requests.

They will be able to continue working with the My Files service and the existing filing methods.

We may later decide to expand the pilot to include more services and functionalities. We will inform participants as and when they are added.

When will the user area pilot start and how long will it last?

We aim to start the pilot on 2 November 2021. It is planned to run for at least six months.

Who can participate and how do I register?

Any user with a smart card who has activated Mailbox may participate in the pilot upon registration and subsequent invitation by the EPO.

Initially, however, only registered European professional representatives will be able to use the application portfolio services.

We may later open up the pilot and the available services to other users.

When selecting pilot participants, we will try to ensure a fair balance in terms of their profile, company size, location, and level of expertise. So, even if we do not contact you immediately, we will save your details and get back to you when we need your support.

Your commitment as a pilot participant will help us to refine the services available in the user area before general release and we are very much looking forward to your feedback.

Will the user area services replace other online services such as Mailbox, My Files and Online Filing 2.0?

During the pilot, participants will still be able to use the current Mailbox and My Files services and existing filing methods, although we hope they will find the user experience and additional features offered in the user area attractive.

The user area services are intended to replace the My Files service and become the only point of access to Mailbox eventually. But this will only happen if the pilot is successful and we will give users plenty of advance notice to enable them to prepare for the change.

What else do I need to know?

Even if you are taking part in the user area pilot, you will still be able to use the existing methods for filing documents.

However, any procedural actions you perform in the user area during the pilot will be considered procedural acts in EPO proceedings in accordance with the applicable EPC and PCT provisions and with:

For more information, see also the notice from the European Patent Office dated 19 August 2021 concerning the user area pilot project (OJ EPO 2021, A65).

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