Information about access to oral proceedings by videoconference before opposition divisions

Oral proceedings before opposition divisions are public, unless the division decides otherwise (Article 116(4) EPC). In the case of oral proceedings by videoconference, the public is granted remote access in accordance with Article 5 of the Decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 14 April 2020 concerning the pilot project for oral proceedings by videoconference before opposition divisions (OJ EPO 2020, A41) and point 5 of the notice from the European Patent Office dated 14 April 2020 concerning the pilot project for oral proceedings by videoconference before opposition divisions (OJ EPO 2020, A42).

A. Access to oral proceedings

Any person may request to remotely attend oral proceedings held by videoconference in opposition proceedings.

1.    The request is to be submitted via email to the EPO at support@epo.org at least three working days prior to the date indicated in the summons to oral proceedings. A request submitted later may not be processed in time and consequently may be disregarded.

2.    The request must be filed by or on behalf of the member of the public wishing to attend the oral proceedings remotely (the requester) and must indicate:

(a)  the application number

(b)  the date of the oral proceedings

(c)  the requester's name

(d)  the requester's email address.

3.    Any request for remote access to oral proceedings by a member of the public will be deemed to constitute acceptance of the Conditions for remote attendance of oral proceedings by videoconference, as set out in section B below.

4.    The EPO will send connection details for the oral proceedings to the requester at the email address indicated in their request.

5.    In exceptional circumstances, access may be denied if the number of requests received exceeds the limit set and risks having an adverse impact on the conduct of the oral proceedings or if the requester, having attended oral proceedings by videoconference in the previous six months, has been found to have acted in breach of the Conditions for remote attendance of oral proceedings by videoconference, as set out in section B below.

B. Conditions for remote attendance of oral proceedings by videoconference

Remote attendance by a member of the public is subject to the following conditions:

1.    The member of the public requesting authorisation to attend oral proceedings remotely must provide information about themselves to obtain connection details for remote access.

2.    Participation is restricted to listening to the sound and watching the images transmitted during the videoconference. The member of the public must not switch on their microphone or camera, unless requested to do so by the chairperson; they are not entitled to speak or otherwise become involved in the videoconference, unless specifically invited to do so by the chairperson.

3.    If so requested by the chairperson, the member of the public must temporarily switch on their camera to allow the videoconference participants to ascertain their identity just as if they were taking part in person on the premises of the EPO.

4.    It is prohibited for the member of the public attending oral proceedings remotely, or any other person, to make or retransmit video and/or sound recordings of any part of the videoconference. The member of the public requesting authorisation to attend oral proceedings accepts full responsibility for ensuring that the connection established using the details provided by the EPO is not used for recording or retransmission.

5.    The connection details provided by the EPO for attending oral proceedings remotely as a member of the public are intended for the sole and exclusive use of the requester. The member of the public must not share these details with any third party; they accept full responsibility for any consequences arising from the unauthorised use of the connection details by a third party.

6.    The member of the public must abide by any instructions addressed to them by the chairperson in the interest of the efficient and undisrupted conduct of the oral proceedings.

7.    A request for remote access to oral proceedings by a member of the public will be deemed to constitute acceptance of these Conditions for remote attendance of oral proceedings by videoconference.

8.    Any breach of these conditions may result in the exclusion of the member of the public from the oral proceedings by videoconference. Where the chairperson finds that the above conditions are breached in a manner that would compromise the efficient conduct of the oral proceedings or would adversely affect the rights of the other participants to the oral proceedings in an undue manner, or if other serious reasons so demand, they may ask the member of the public to leave the videoconference and end the connection.

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