User area services – call for pilot participants

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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 is a new online service that the EPO is developing.  It  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.

The user area is designed to make access easier, provide improved procedural guidance and improve the exchange of digital information. It will also enable exchange of digital information and more direct interaction with EPO examiners on files.

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

We will be developing the services available via the user area progressively between now and 2023, with the user area being launched initially as a 6-month pilot (minimum) in November before general release during 2022.

user area video

 

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 their EPO 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 still 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?

The pilot started 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 EPO Mailbox may participate upon registration and subsequent invitation by the EPO.

All pilot participants can access the mailbox services in the user area. 

However, initially 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.

While the pilot has already begun, you can still register to participate via the button below.

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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