FAQ - Online Filing

General information

Where can I find the Online Filing software?

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. There are two ways of filing via our webpage:

What documents can I file using the Online Filing software?

Using the Online Filing (OLF) software you can file the following documents with the EPO: EP (EP(1001E2K)), Euro-PCT (EP(1200E2K)), PCT (PCT/RO/101) applications as well as subsequent actions including appeals (EP(1038E)), EP (Oppo) documents and PCT subsequently filed documents (PCT-SFD) as well as PCT demands (PCT/IPEA/401). You can also file national patent applications (DE, FI, GB, NL, PL, SE, SK, and so on), EP(1001E2K) and PCT/RO/101 at national offices that accept submissions made using the Online Filing software. UP 7000 (Request for unitary effect) - in demo mode, UP 7038 (European patent with unitary effect – letter accompanying subsequently filed items) - in demo mode.

Online Filing SP14

Do I need to update?

Yes.

Version 5.14 is now available (incorporates updates up to 1 July 2022).

This release includes a new version of the thin client, which must be updated.   

EP updates following this release will be available for V5.14 only, so customers are encouraged to update to avoid adverse procedural effects. 

Deinstallation of previous versions is not required.

The 1 April 2022 PCT/RO/101 release (version 3.51.275), including updates of PCT fees to 1 July 2022, is included in this package and will not be issued separately.

How do I update?

Download the full package, launch it and then follow the instructions on screen. For full installation instructions, please see the Installation Guide.

Install further packages in date order (oldest first) or enable Live Update once the full package has been installed.

Do not deinstall previous versions, as you may delete your database in the process.

How do I check the server version?

On the File Manager screen, click Help > Info.

The About File Manager window provides information on the type of installation and the build numbers for the modules currently installed. It is important to have this data to hand when talking to Customer Services.

The lower part of the window contains information on all the national procedures installed.

To see all the plug-ins, scroll down this pane.

How do I check the thin client version?

Navigate to the OLF installation folder (normally C:\Program Files (x86)\EPO_OLF5 for stand-alone installations or C:\Program Files (x86)\EPO_OLF5-TC for client-only installations)

Find the executable OLFClient.exe and right-click on OLFClient.exe

Select Properties, select Details and view the file version

How do I install/update the thin client?

An OLF server should be already installed in your network before you install a thin client.

To install the thin client, you can either revert to the installation file OLF514.exe or use the thin client installation files. You can find the thin client installation files OLF514client.exe or OLF514client.msi in the program folder C:\Program Files (x86)\EPO_OLF5\ThinClient_v500 (C:\Program Files\EPO_OLF5\ThinClient_v500 on 32-bit systems) on the server PC following OLF server installation.

You can also download the latest version of the thin client installation files from the EPO website: Download software

OLF514client.exe can be used to install and update the thin client on all Windows operating systems without having to deinstall existing clients first.

OLF514client.msi requires the deinstallation of existing clients.

It is also possible to install thin clients in silent mode using a batch file.

For full installation instructions and information on using silent mode, please see the Installation Guide.

What does SP14 contain?

The SP14 update incorporates updates up to 1 July 2022. For full details, please see the ReadMe file: Download documentation

Later packages should be installed on top of SP14 full in date order (oldest first). Updates are cumulative per area – only the latest EP, IB or national update should be installed; previous updates are included in the latest package and will only be applied if necessary.

Do I need to install extra patches afterwards?

Yes.

The SP14 package incorporates updates up to 1 July 2022, including National Office plug-ins. Further packages can be found on the download software page. Later packages should be installed on top of SP14 full in date order (oldest first). Updates are cumulative per area – only the latest EP, IB or national update should be installed; previous updates are included in the latest package and will only be applied if necessary.

How long will installation take?

As the SP14 update is a complete package, its installation is significantly faster than the installation of multiple patches. The exact installation time will depend on the individual system.

During installation a pop-up tells me that the Arial Unicode font is not found. What should I do?

To resolve this issue,

  • locate the arialuni.tff font. You will most likely find it in the directory C:\Windows\Fonts
  • copy the arialuni.tff font to the directory of your Online Filing installation, e.g. C:\Program Files (x86)\EPO_OLF5
  • restart the installation process
  • when you are prompted to select the arialuni.tff font during the installation process, select it from the aforementioned folder (e.g. C:\Program Files (x86)\EPO_OLF5 )

Smart cards and soft certificates

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

You do not need a smart card to prepare applications, but you do need one to 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?

When opening the cryptovision Utility module, your smart card's token label and ID are displayed. This confirms that your smart card reader is working properly.

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 via the Online Filing software. It is, however, possible to file Form PCT/RO/101 drawn up 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, which can be found here:

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

The recommended minimum hardware for Online Filing can be found in the ReadMe file.

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-in 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.

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

Versions 11 and DC of Adobe Acrobat Reader are required. No other PDF readers or other versions of Acrobat are supported.

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

If you receive this error message deinstall and reinstall Adobe Acrobat Reader.

My OLF database is too big. How do I perform housekeeping?

The Server Manager's backup functionalities allow you to back up, restore and clear the complete Online Filing database. We advise that you export sent filings before emptying the database (for instructions on how to do this, see the User guide, Section 13, Server Manager).

The Backup tab displays a list of all the backup files in your default backup directory, indicating the type of database, file name and file date. You can specify the location of the backup directory in Settings.

Button

Function

Description

Backup

Back up the complete Online Filing database to a compressed archive file.

Restore

Restore the database from a selected backup file.

Delete file

Delete a backup file.

Empty database

Empty the Online Filing database. Specific data from the production database can be copied to the new database.

Refresh

Display current list of all backup files from the default backup directory.

The export functions in Server Manager apply to the production database only.

Each time you export an application, the Export function creates a new ZIP file and names it according to the application's user reference.
If a ZIP file of the same name already exists in the export folder, e.g. sample_oppo.zip, the following ZIP files will be named sample_oppo_001.zip, sample_oppo_002.zip and so on.
The same applies if two or more applications have the same user reference.

You can opt to export and delete files from the database in a single operation. To do this:

  • Select the option Delete items from database after archiving.
  • Click the Export button. Do not click Cancel while the Export progress window is still visible. Doing this will delete the selected applications processed up to this point but will not export them.

The applications will be exported and permanently deleted from the database. If you need to have them back in the Online Filing database, use the Import functions in File Manager or Server Manager. Using the Restore function overwrites the whole database and restores it to the state it was in when the backup file was generated – you will lose all applications created since the backup.

Again, for full instructions, see the User guide, Section 13, Server Manager.

Current filing and submission issues

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 under the PCT procedure are even stricter 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 directly.

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.

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 and licensed for distribution (exception: Base 14 fonts are accepted even if they are not embedded)
  • the text is not compressed, to facilitate searching
  • the PDF is not encrypted
  • the PDF is version 1.4 (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 electronically signed. (Exceptions: Certified copies of priority documents that comply with the Administrative Instructions under the PCT, Part 7 and Annex F, may be digitally signed; they may only be filed via Online Filing or Online Filing 2.0 – for further details see OJ EPO 2018, A94. Additionally, documents submitted as evidence to support requests for registration of a transfer of rights under Rules 22 and 85 EPC and requests for registration of a licence or other rights under Rule 23 EPC bearing qualified electronic signatures may also be filed via Online Filing, Web-form Filing or Online Filing 2.0 – for further details see OJ EPO 2021, A86.)

Notes: US priority documents can be submitted in A4 format only. Qualified electronic signatures requiring reference links to or validation via external websites will not be accepted.

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.

A supplementary international search report (SISR) has been drawn up by a Supplementary International Searching Authority (SISA) under the PCT. Where do I indicate this on Form 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 direct to the EPO by WIPO.

Note: If you qualify for a fee reduction for a supplementary European search, you can indicate this by 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 Euro-PCT(1200E2K) or EP(1001E2K)?

You fill it in as follows:

If you are not paying for any additional claims, enter "0" as indicated in the Validation Messages/Documents panel (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 want to pay fees for some but not all claims, the selected claims can be indicated in the Annotations tab.

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

Please note: If you choose the fee payment option Automatic debit order, all fees, including any claims fees, will be debited automatically when due, and any entry in the Number of claims you intend to pay for field is disregarded.

I would like to file Form Euro-PCT(1200E2K), but the pamphlet (international application) has not yet been published. How do I request early processing and enter the number of pages for the description, claims and drawings if I do not intend to introduce amendments on entry into the regional phase?

The calculation of the number of pages and page fees is based on the documents submitted to the competent receiving Office; only then should you enter the Number of pages, doing so in the International application as published field. The EPO will check that the page numbers have been indicated correctly and that the correct fees have been paid once it receives the documents from WIPO under Article 20 PCT.

To indicate that you wish to enter the European phase with a request for early processing, please also tick the following box:

I wish to submit an electronically signed document regarding priority, a transfer of rights or a licence. How can I do so?

Certified copies of priority documents that comply with the Administrative Instructions under the PCT, Part 7 and Annex F (for further details see OJ EPO 2018, A94) and documents submitted as evidence to support requests for registration of a transfer of rights under Rules 22 and 85 EPC and requests for registration of a licence or other rights under Rule 23 EPC (for further details see OJ EPO 2021, A87) bearing qualified electronic signatures may be filed via Online Filing or Online Filing 2.0. Certified copies of priority documents may not be filed via Web-form Filing.

Qualified electronic signatures requiring reference links to or validation via external websites will not be accepted. Some such signatures will produce the following error message: “The attached PDF document appears to be encrypted. In order to proceed, please detach it and attach a PDF document that is not encrypted.”
You should detach the file, fix the signature issue and reattach the file for submission.

For submission via Online Filing, Web-form Filing and Online Filing 2.0, electronically signed documents submitted under Rules 22, 23 and 85 EPC must meet certain standards:

  • The document must fulfil Annex F requirements.
  • All qualified electronic signatures must form part of the document.

The signature(s) cannot be sent separately, require validation via any external website or be applied as image(s).

For more information about the application of qualified electronic signatures to PDF documents, please contact your PDF software supplier (e.g. Acrobat Help).

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.

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 draft 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.

Appeal proceedings

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

Documents in appeal proceedings can only be filed via Online Filing and Online Filing 2.0, using Form EP(1038E).

Can Form EP(1038E) be used by any party to the appeal proceedings other than the appellants?

Yes, Form EP(1038E) can be used by any of the parties to appeal proceedings. The role of the party concerned will be clear from information contained in the letter and/or the accompanying document(s) being filed. The Names section can be left empty. If, however, you enter data in the Names section, not all of the relevant name categories are available; the EPO Boards of Appeal are aware of this. If the party to the proceedings is represented, the name of the party's representative should be entered in the relevant section.

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 the Server Manager (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.

Can I use my EPO smart card to file patent applications online with national offices?

Yes. You can use your EPO smart card to file patent applications with most EPC member state national offices.

You need to register your smart card with the national office first. For the contact details, select the relevant country from the list at Online filing at national offices.

Do I need an INPI smart card to file patent applications online with the French patent office?

No, you can use your EPO smart card in combination with cryptovision.
All smart cards need to be registered before they can be used for filing documents with INPI. Existing INPI smart cards that require Gemalto Classic Client can continue to be used until they expire. Please contact INPI Direct for any further assistance.

I noticed on the webpage that there is a tool for registering non-EPO smart cards. What cards are they?

At present, there are only two non-EPO cards approved for online transactions with the EPO. They are:

  • FINUID (issued by the Finnish government to Finnish citizens)
  • Ceres (issued to Spanish citizens)

Updates

Can I be automatically notified when new software is released?

You can 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 check box 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 email address in the Server Manager Settings tab. Everybody on that list will then be sent an automatically generated email 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 the updates in order to effectively apply them to the Online Filing software.

On installation of some large patches, a separate download window will open, with a link to download the patch.

Conversion issues (PDF, PatXML)

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

The EPO offers users Amyuni PDF converter, which is pre-configured to produce Annex F‑compliant PDF files.

Once you have installed this converter, you can go within your document to File => Print, select the Amyuni PDF Converter from the list of printers and then select 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.

For a free download of Amyuni, 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.

Filing of sequence listings

How can I file nucleotide and/or amino acid sequence listings in accordance with Annex C/WIPO Standard ST.26 text format as part of an international application?

Check the box The description contains a sequence listing in Biology on Form PCT/RO/101.

Go to Contents and select Sequence listing. Attach a sequence listing in accordance with WIPO Standard ST.26 format (XML or ZIP). 
Sequence listings in PDF format are not permitted under WIPO Standard ST.26.

I need to submit sequence listings ‒ should I use WIPO Standard ST.26 or ST.25?

The international filing date is the reference date for deciding whether sequence listings must be submitted in accordance with WIPO Standard ST.26 or ST.25.

WIPO Standard ST.25 remains effective for applications with an international filing date prior to 1 July 2022. Applications with an international filing date on or after 1 July 2022 must comply with WIPO Standard ST.26.

For further information on the changed requirements for sequence listings, see OJ EPO 2021, A97.

I prepared, but did not submit, sequence listings before the 1 July 2022 update. Can I still submit them as they are?

No. From 1 July 2022, sequence listings must comply with WIPO Standard ST.26 in order to meet the requirements under Rule 30(1) EPC.

WIPO Standard ST.26 is the internationally agreed standard for the presentation of nucleotide and amino acid sequence listings using XML (eXtensible Markup Language). The current version of the standard is available on the WIPO website. It describes the formal requirements for the filing of sequence listings and explains how the sequences contained in a sequence listing are to be presented.

For applications that are signed and ready to send but were not submitted before the 1 July 2022 update, you will have to remove any WIPO Standard ST.25-compliant sequence listings you attached and reformat them in line with WIPO Standard ST.26 before submission.

The same goes for draft applications that were not signed before the 1 July 2022 update: any attached sequence listings prepared under WIPO Standard ST.25 must be removed and reformatted in line with WIPO Standard ST.26.

For further information on the changed requirements for sequence listings, see OJ EPO 2021, A97.

What file formats are allowed under WIPO Standard ST.26?

Once WIPO Standard ST.26 comes into effect on 1 July 2022, you will have to attach your sequence listing either as an XML file or as a ZIP file (containing one XML file).

Can I submit more than one sequence listing file?

No. From 1 July 2022, you will only be allowed to submit one sequence listing file.

How can I create sequence listings compliant with WIPO Standard ST.26?

Besides some commercially available products, WIPO's free WIPO Sequence software can help you to create sequence listings compliant with WIPO Standard ST.26.

You are free to use any XML-editing tool you like to produce your sequence listing as long as it complies with WIPO Standard ST.26 at the time of filing, However, WIPO Standard ST.26 is complicated, and so it is strongly recommended that you only use software specifically designed for this purpose.

In the Divisional sub-tab, why is the checkbox The Office is requested to add … automatically crossed?

In the Request tab of Form EP(1001E2K), Divisional sub-tab, the checkbox The Office is requested to add … is pre-crossed. This enables the EPO to add a copy of the standard-compliant sequence listing filed for the earlier (parent) application to the dossier of the divisional application in XML format and for search purposes only (i.e. not as part of the description) (see OJ EPO 2021, A97, point 18). The sequence listing of the earlier application is not automatically added to the dossier of the divisional application if you file an ST.26-compliant sequence listing as part of the divisional application's description or if the sequence listing available in the earlier application does not comply with WIPO Standard ST.26.

Should you not want the EPO to add a copy of the sequence listing filed for the earlier application to the dossier of a divisional application, you should manually clear the checkbox.

Signatures

Does a letter attached to Form EP(1038E) have to be signed if the form itself is signed by the appointed professional representative?

The formalities officers will verify any signatures: if either Form EP(1038E) or the letter is signed by the appointed professional representative.

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

In Online Filing, documents attached to an electronic filing form do not require a handwritten signature. Electronic filing forms (e.g. Forms 1001E2K, 1200E2K, 1038E, PCT/RO/101, PCT-SFD or PCT-DEMAND) can be signed using a facsimile signature, an enhanced electronic signature or a text string signature. A facsimile signature is an image reproduction of the filing person's signature. An enhanced electronic signature is an electronic signature issued or accepted by the EPO and confirmed with certificates issued or accepted by the EPO (i.e. signing using a smart card). A text string signature is a string of characters, preceded and followed by a forward slash (/), selected by the signatory to prove their identity and their intent to sign.

PCT procedure and online submissions

Can I use WIPO's ePCT service to file documents online with the EPO acting as receiving Office?

Yes. For more information on how to use and set up this service please refer to the WIPO website.

As from 1 November 2016, the ePCT service can be used to file subsequently filed documents, as stated in Rule 89bis.2, and file a demand, as stated in Chapter II of the PCT. Payment of fees related to the demand can also be indicated via this method.

Can subsequently filed documents for the PCT procedure and the demand procedure (Chapter II) be filed online?

Yes, they can.

Read the Notice from the European Patent Office dated 23 September 2016 concerning the online filing of subsequently filed documents under the PCT, including the demand under PCT Chapter II.

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.

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