INFORMATION FROM THE EPO
Notice from the European Patent Office dated 6 December 2004 concerning the filing of patent applications and other documents
This notice is issued in connection with the Decision of the President of the EPO dated 6 December 2004 on the use of facsimile for filing patent applications and other documents (see p. 41). It applies as from 1 February 2005.
1. Filing of patent applications
1.1 European patent applications and international (PCT) applications may be filed direct, by post or by facsimile with the EPO's filing offices in Munich, The Hague and Berlin (see point 7)1.
1.2 European patent applications may also be filed with the competent national authorities of the contracting states direct, by post or, if those authorities permit, by facsimile (cf. Article 1 of the Decision dated 6 December 2004).
1.3 European patent applications and international applications may not be filed by telegram, telex, teletex or similar means. Applications so filed will not be treated as European patent applications or international applications and cannot be accorded a valid date of filing within the meaning of Article 80 EPC or Article 11 PCT.
2. Filing of other documents
After a European patent application or an international application has been filed, other documents may be filed in any proceedings before the EPO direct, by post or - with the exception of authorisations and priority documents - by facsimile at the EPO's filing offices2. They may no longer be filed by telegram or telex. It is recommended to file documents relating to appeal proceedings directly with the filing offices in Munich in order to expedite the procedure.
Requests for grant of a European patent or for applications to be processed as international applications and other documents must be signed unless they are annexes. Where a document is filed by facsimile, the reproduction on the facsimile of the signature of the person filing the document will be considered sufficient. The name and position of that person must be clear from the signature.
4. Written confirmation reproducing patent applications and other documents
4.1 Written confirmation of European patent applications or other documents relating to such applications filed by facsimile is, as a rule, no longer required. The EPO therefore recommends that no confirmation copies be sent anymore as a routine measure. Only if the documents filed by facsimile are of inferior quality will the EPO invite the applicant to supply a written confirmation within a non-extendable period of one month (cf. Article 4 of the Decision dated 6 December 2004).
4.2 However for international applications filed by facsimile, the hard-copy application documents (in three copies) complying with the Rules and the Request (Form PCT/RO/101) still have to be forwarded simultaneously and the facsimile should state that such documents have been forwarded. Otherwise, the EPO will invite the applicant to supply such documents within a non-extendable period of one month (cf. Article 4(1) of the Decision dated 6 December 2004). The applicants are asked to indicate the facsimile date and to make it clear that the paper documents represent "confirmation of an application filed by facsimile". This avoids duplication of files.
5. Date of receipt of documents
5.1 Patent applications filed by facsimile are accorded as the date of filing the date on which the facsimile application documents are received in full at the EPO provided these documents satisfy the requirements of Article 80 EPC or Article 11(1) PCT. If transmission continues after midnight and the documents received on the previous day satisfy these requirements, the application is accorded the date of the previous day as the date of filing provided the applicant requests this and renounces those parts of the application received after midnight.
5.2 Documents filed by facsimile at one of the EPO filing offices are accorded as the date of filing the date on which they are received at the EPO.
5.3 Where a patent application or another document filed by facsimile is illegible or incomplete, the document shall be treated as not having been received to the extent that it is illegible or that the attempted transmission failed (cf. Article 3 of the Decision dated 6 December 2004).
5.4 Documents handed over personally in one of the EPO filing offices are accorded the date of handing over as the date of filing.
5.5 Documents received by post at one of the EPO filing offices are accorded the date of receipt as the date of filing.
5.6 Documents posted in an automated mail-box at one of the EPO filing offices are accorded the date of posting as the date of filing.
5.7 The foregoing paragraphs apply similarly to documents filed with the competent national authorities of the contracting states. However, once the applicant has received from the EPO the communication under Rule 24(4) EPC, all further documents relating to the application may only be filed with the EPO.
6. Acknowledgement of receipt
6.1 The EPO or the competent national authority of the contracting state acknowledges receipt of European patent applications on the form provided for this purpose (EPO Form 1001 (Request for Grant), p.6). The EPO acknowledges international applications on EPO Form 1030/1031.
6.2 The EPO acknowledges receipt of other documents on the form provided for this purpose and completed by the party (EPO Form 1037 or 1038).
6.3 On request, the EPO acknowledges receipt by facsimile of the documents specified in points 6.1 and 6.2 against payment of the administrative fee specified in Section 2.1, item 13, of the Schedule of fees.
To ensure prompt confirmation of receipt, the request and evidence of payment of the administrative fee or a debit order must be enclosed with the documents or transmitted at the same time. The postal or fax address to which the receipt is to be sent must also be given.
7. Filing offices
7.1 The filing offices of the EPO in Munich, The Hague and Berlin are open for the receipt of documents at the following times:
Filing offices in the main building (Erhardtstrasse 27) and PschorrHöfe (Bayerstrasse 34):
Monday to Thursday: 08.00 to 16.45 hrs
Friday: 08.00 to 15.30 hrs
Monday to Friday: 08.00 to 18.00 hrs
Monday to Thursday: 09.00 to 12.00 and 13.00 to 15.00 hrs
Friday: 09.00 to 12.00 hrs
7.2 The EPO filing offices in Berlin and Munich are equipped with automated mail-boxes, which may be used at any time.The automated mail-box facility is not available at the filing office in The Hague at present. Outside office hours documents may be handed to the porter.
7.3 For filing documents by facsimile only the following numbers are to be used:
(+49 (0)89) 2399-4465
(+31 (0)70) 340-3016
(+49 (0)30) 25901-840
Attention is drawn to the fact that the EPO's sub-office in Vienna is not a filing office for the purposes of Article 75(1)(a) EPC. Patent applications filed with the Vienna sub-office will be forwarded to one of the filing offices and will only be accorded a date of filing on receipt by the latter.
8. Application of other provisions
The provisions of the Administrative Agreement between the German Patent Office and the European Patent Office concerning procedure on receipt of documents and payments in the version of 13 October 1989 (OJ EPO 1991, 187) are not affected.
9. Earlier notices superseded
This notice supersedes with effect from 1 February 2005 the Notice from the European Patent Office dated 2 June 1992 concerning the filing of patent applications and other documents (OJ EPO 1992, 306).