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Oral proceedings in opposition proceedings are public, in so far as the opposition division does not decide otherwise (Article 116(4) EPC). The public is granted remote access in accordance with Article 6 of the Decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 22 November 2022 concerning the format of oral proceedings before examining and opposition divisions, the Legal Division and the Receiving Section (OJ EPO 2022, A103) and points 21 et seq. of the notice from the European Patent Office dated 22 November 2022 concerning oral proceedings by videoconference before examining and opposition divisions, the Legal Division and the Receiving Section, as well as consultations by videoconference before examining divisions (OJ EPO 2022, A106).
A. Public access to oral proceedings before opposition divisions
1. Members of the public may gain remote access to opposition oral proceedings using a link provided upon request. Requests must be submitted via email to the EPO at email@example.com at least three working days prior to the date indicated in the summons to the oral proceedings. Requests submitted later than that may not be processed in time and may consequently 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 public access to oral proceedings before opposition divisions 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 public access to oral proceedings before opposition divisions as set out in section B below.
B. Conditions for public access to oral proceedings before opposition divisions
Remote attendance by a member of the public is subject to the following conditions:
1. The member of the public wishing to attend oral proceedings remotely must provide information about themselves in order to obtain the connection details for remote access.
2. Participation is restricted to listening to the sound and watching the images transmitted during the oral proceedings Members of the public may not switch on their microphone or camera unless asked to do so by the chairperson. They are not entitled to speak or otherwise become involved in the oral proceedings, 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 participants to ascertain their identity just as if they were attending the oral proceedings in person on the premises of the EPO.
4. It is prohibited for the member of the public, or any other person attending oral proceedings remotely to make or retransmit video and/or sound recordings of any part of the oral proceedings. Members of the public wishing to attend oral proceedings must accept 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 to members of the public to enable them to attend oral proceedings remotely are intended for the sole and exclusive use of the requester. They may not share these details with any third party and must accept full responsibility for any consequences arising from the unauthorised use of the connection details by a third party.
6. Members 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. The submission of 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.
8. Any breach of these conditions may result in the exclusion of the member of the public from the oral proceedings. Where the chairperson finds that the above conditions are breached in a manner that may 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 oral proceedings and terminate the connection.