The Mailbox is a single point of delivery for electronic communications from the EPO to a professional representative, legal practitioners (Art.134(8) EPC, or applicant who have their residence or place of business in an EPC Contracting state. It is a company-based service, which means that communications are delivered to a company's mailbox, not to individuals within the company. Anyone in the company who has a smart card, and has been authorised by the company administrator, can access the mailbox.
A mailbox is automatically created when someone from a company without a mailbox enrols for a smart card. The mailbox is created for the company indicated on the smart card enrolment form. It belongs to the company and not the person. Professional representatives, legal practitioners (Art.134(8) EPC, or applicants who have their residence or place of business in an EPC Contracting state can then be added as the recipients of electronic communications in it.
The Mailbox is an inbox to which the EPO can send PDF versions of communications to professional representatives, legal practitioners (Art.134(8) EPC, or applicants who have their residence or place of business in an EPC Contracting state. When the EPO sends a communication, it checks, if the Mailbox is active for the associated file.
To use the Mailbox, professional representatives or associations of them, the legal practitioner or applicant, first have to be added as associates. (Registering as an association can make using the Mailbox easier).
To add an associate, the company administrator has to:
The EPO receives a request to add the associate, which it accepts or rejects. The company administrator then gets an alert.
If the EPO accepts the request, the administrator then has to:
From then on, the Mailbox is enabled for the associate and any communications for their files will go straight there - provided they are on the list of communications available via the Mailbox.
When a professional representative logs in with their smart card, they will also have access to My Files, where they can access their unpublished applications (or those of their association) and manage representation for their files. The MyFiles functionality is only available to professional representatives.
Yes. For an associate to be able to access My Files, the Mailbox must be turned on and the associate must click on "Send electronic mail to company mailbox". The My Files functionality is only available for professional representatives.
Go to the Mailbox web page and log in using your smart card.
A user is any smart card holder within a company who has access to the Mailbox and can view and download communications and administer the inbox (e.g. create/delete folders or move items from folder to folder).
Mailbox associates are the recipients of electronic communications sent to the Mailbox. They can be professional representatives, associations, legal practitioners, or applicants. Associates (if they are a natural person) do not need to own a smart card in order to receive electronic communications sent to the Mailbox, but must have access to one to read them.
This is the number under which an association of professional representatives before the EPO is registered with the EPO's Legal Division.
All EPO communications will be notified to the association at its registered address or address for correspondence.
The company administrator can be anyone in the company who owns a smart card and has accepted the role.
If a company does not have an administrator, any smart card holder in that company who logs in to the portal will be invited to become the administrator. This invitation will continue to appear until one of the smart card holders accepts it.
The company administrator is the user responsible for defining user access to Online Fee Payment, the Mailbox and My Files. The company administrator can assign administrator rights to other smart card holders within your company, or revoke them.
The company administrator is responsible for keeping the list of users and associates up to date.
A company administrator can:
Your company administrator must inform the EPO of any changes to the list of associates in your company. Any change to user/associate (professional representative) contact details, i.e. change of name/address of office, should be notified either to firstname.lastname@example.org or via the contact form.
Should an associate no longer wish to receive communications via the Mailbox, your company administrator must delete that person from the list of associates in the Administration tab.
No, this can only be done by another smart card holder who is also a company administrator.
Anyone who has a smart card (i.e. a user) and who has been given access by their company administrator can access the company mailbox and read all communications. Associates can "receive" communications. That is, communications addressed to them are sent via the Mailbox.
No, you cannot forward items from the Mailbox. If you wish to forward an item, you must download it to your own computer and send it as an attachment using your own mail system, or put it on a shared drive.
No, you cannot reply to the EPO via the Mailbox. The current version of the Mailbox allows only one-way communication, from the EPO to the user.
Regardless of whether a mail item has been opened or not, a mail item sent to the Mailbox is deemed to have been notified on the tenth day after transmission of the electronic communication to the Mailbox, unless the communication arrives later or not at all. See Decision of the Administrative Council dated 15 October 2014.
The list of communications currently made available via the Mailbox is published on the EPO website:
These communications will continue to be sent by post until further notice.
Each mailbox is defined by its company name. If your company has several legal entities within the same country or in different countries, you can have more than one mailbox by indicating different company names on individual smart card enrolment forms, e.g. "EPO The Hague", "EPO Munich", "EPO Berlin" and "EPO Vienna". You can only assign a professional representative, association, legal practitioner or applicant to one mailbox, and you can only access one mailbox with one smart card.
No. Once your administrator has activated your company mailbox and authorised your access to it, you will be sent electronic communications instead of paper ones. If an item of mail is sent electronically, it is not also sent by post.
The administrator can choose to set the trash to be emptied once a day, once a week, once every four weeks or once every 12 weeks. Thus, depending on the setting chosen, you can recover communications from trash for up to a maximum of 12 weeks.
The mail item descriptions are displayed in the procedural language of the file.
No. The Mailbox does not offer this service. It does not have a mail notification feature, so Mailbox users need to access the tool regularly to check if new electronic items have arrived.
No. You can only be associated with one mailbox.
You can't. You can only be associated with one mailbox. If you are already linked as an associate to company mailbox A, all your EPO electronic communications are sent to company mailbox A, even communications relating to company B.
No. You can only be associated with one mailbox. All EPO electronic communications relating to you as a professional representative will be sent to the mailbox with which you are associated, including communications relating to other companies.
You need to contact your company administrator and request to be granted access to the company mailbox.
You need to inform your company administrator, who will be able to remove you from the list of associates of your company mailbox.
EPO online services products have been tested for use with all commonly used browsers, but you should ensure that pop-up windows from www.epoline.org are not blocked (note: some browsers block pop-ups by default when they are installed).
The Mailbox can only be accessed if you have a smart card. Are you logged in with a smart card? If you are, your company administrator needs to give you access rights using the administration function.