The instructions in A‑III, 2 ("Representation") apply to international applications whether furnished in an official language or in translation. An agent having a right to practise before the PCT International Authorities is not necessarily authorised to act before the EPO (see Art. 27(7) PCT).
If the agents acting in the international phase are professional representatives entitled to practise before the EPO, such representatives are not automatically considered appointed for the European phase. If any applicant has mandated them to act on their behalf also in the European phase, the representatives need to identify themselves accordingly to the EPO as designated/elected Office. The only case in which professional representatives acting in the international phase are automatically considered appointed for the European phase is if they were validly appointed in the procedure before the EPO as receiving Office, ISA or IPEA and it is clear from the respective file that the appointment extends to representation in the European phase. The same principles apply where applicants having their residence or principal place of business in an EPC contracting state are represented by an authorised employee (see A‑VIII, 1.3).
Applicants, in particular those not resident in an EPC contracting state, are recommended to appoint a professional representative before the EPO in good time, i.e. before initiating proceedings before the EPO as designated/elected Office (see also E‑IX, 2.1.2).
However, up to expiry of the 31-month time limit under Rule 159, applicants having neither a residence nor their principal place of business within the territory of one of the contracting states may either comply with any requirement themselves or act through a professional representative entitled to practise before the EPO. This means that applicants having neither a residence nor the principal place of business within the territory of one of the contracting states may themselves , within the 31-month time limit, for example sign and file EPO Form 1200, submit amendments, file a translation of the application, file a request for early processing, etc.
Applicants having neither a residence nor their principal place of business within the territory of one of the contracting states who do not themselves take the required steps for entry into the European phase within the 31-month time limit may, after expiry of that time limit, perform these and the other procedural steps (e.g. filing a request for re-establishment of rights) only through a professional representative entitled to practise before the EPO.
In case of failure to appoint a professional representative where this is required, the EPO invites the applicant to do so within a time limit of two months. Until the EPO is informed of a (valid) appointment, any procedural step taken by the applicant will be deemed not to have been taken. If the deficiency is not corrected in due time, the application will be refused; the applicant may request further processing (see E‑VIII, 2).
If there is more than one applicant and the following information was not provided for one or more of those applicants in the international phase and is still missing at the expiry of the 31-month time limit under Rule 159(1):
the EPO will invite the applicant to furnish these indications within two months. Failure to do so will lead to refusal of the application. The same applies if the requirements for representation are not met at the end of the 31-month time limit, with the same consequence for failure to correct the deficiency in time. If the applicants fail to reply in time to the above-mentioned invitation, they may request further processing.
Applicants (whether natural or legal persons) whose residence or principal place of business is in an EPC contracting state and who act without a professional representative may make use of an address for correspondence which is different from their address of residence. See A‑III, 4.2.1.