8.2 Conduct of oral proceedings
Before the Receiving Section oral proceedings will be conducted by the appointed officer and before the examining or opposition divisions by the chair of the division concerned. Before the Legal Division, oral proceedings will be conducted by one legally qualified member of the Legal Division.
The responsibilities of the person conducting the proceedings will include keeping order and conducting the proceedings as regards their formal and substantive aspects.
The person conducting the proceedings must in particular ensure that, where necessary, a list is prepared of all disputed or unclear points relevant to the decision to be reached, that these are discussed and that the party or parties have the opportunity of commenting on them. In the case of oral proceedings by videoconference, the person conducting them must ascertain that no technical problems have prevented the oral proceedings from being conducted in accordance with the right to be heard and the right to oral proceedings (see E‑III, 8.2.3).
On the other hand, the oral proceedings are to be conducted strictly and efficiently, so that the submissions of the party or parties and the discussions are not unnecessarily digressive and do not deal with points which are of no relevance to the decision to be reached. Repetition is to be avoided as far as possible. In particular, written material submitted at the appropriate time to the competent department and to the party or parties which has already been the subject of proceedings need not be read out in extenso. A simple reference to such written material may suffice.
8.2.1Oral proceedings on the EPO premises – use of laptops or other electronic devices during either ex parte or inter partes oral proceedings
As a general rule, the use of laptops or other electronic devices during oral proceedings on the EPO premises is allowed provided they do not cause disturbance to the participants and are not used for sound recording (see the Notice of the Vice-Presidents Directorates-General 2 and 3 dated 25 February 1986, OJ EPO 1986, 63).
Only in exceptional circumstances, where oral proceedings are held on the premises of the EPO and where, for example, the use of an electronic device disturbs the oral proceedings and despite warning of the division the disturbance is not remedied, can the division decide not to admit the use of the incriminated device. It will be taken into consideration that it is normal for representatives to rely on electronically stored documents to present their case and they may be put in a difficult position if the division denies them the right to use their laptop.
8.2.2Oral proceedings by videoconference before examining divisions
Oral proceedings before examining divisions are to be held by videoconference unless there are serious reasons against it.