INFORMATION FROM THE EPO
Decisions of the President of the EPO
Decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 26 February 2009 concerning the electronic filing of documents
Admissibility of electronic filing
(1) Documents in proceedings under the EPC may be filed with the European Patent Office in electronic form.
(2) European patent applications may also be filed in electronic form with the competent national authorities of those contracting states which so permit.
Filing of international patent applications and other documents
International (PCT) applications and other documents relating to international applications may be filed with the European Patent Office in electronic form.
Filing of priority documents
Articles 1 and 2 shall not apply to priority documents, unless they have been digitally signed by the issuing authority and the signature is accepted by the European Patent Office.
The provisions governing the filing of sequence listings shall apply mutatis mutandis to applications containing a sequence listing.
(1) Electronic filings of documents shall be made online or on admissible electronic data carriers.
(2) Electronic filings shall be made using the software provided free of charge by the European Patent Office.
(3) Subject to prior approval by the European Patent Office, electronic filings may also be made using other software.
(4) Documents filed on an electronic data carrier shall be accompanied by a paper document identifying the applicant and/or his representative, indicating an address for correspondence and listing the files stored on the data carrier.
Packaging of documents
(1) The submissions referred to in Articles 1 and 2 shall be packaged using the software provided free of charge by the European Patent Office.
(2) Subject to prior approval by the European Patent Office, documents may also be packaged using other software.
(3) The Administrative Instructions under the PCT, Part 7 and Annex F, shall apply to the filing of international (PCT) applications and other documents within the meaning of Rule 89bis PCT.
(1) Where filed documents require signature, subject to Article 8 this may take the form of a facsimile signature, a text string signature or an enhanced electronic signature.
(2) A facsimile signature shall be the facsimile reproduction of the filing person's signature.
(3) A text string signature shall be a string of characters, preceded and followed by a forward slash (/), selected by the signatory to provide evidence of his identity and of his intent to authenticate the message in question.
(4) An enhanced electronic signature shall be an electronic signature either issued by the European Patent Office or accepted by it.
(1) The authenticity of documents filed in accordance with Article 5(1) of this decision shall be confirmed by means of the certificates of electronic signatures issued or accepted by the European Patent Office.
(2) The authenticity of documents filed in appeal proceedings (Articles 106 to 112a EPC) in accordance with Article 5(1) of this decision shall be confirmed by means of an enhanced electronic signature of a person authorised to act in the proceedings in question.
Date of filing of electronically filed patent applications and date of receipt of electronically filed documents
(1) The date of filing accorded to a patent application filed in electronic form shall be the date on which the application documents thus transmitted were received at the European Patent Office or the competent national authority of the contracting state concerned, provided these documents satisfy the requirements of Article 80 EPC and Rule 40 EPC or of Article 11(1) PCT.
(2) The date of filing accorded to a divisional application filed in electronic form and meeting the requirements of Article 80 EPC and Rule 40 EPC shall be the date of filing of the earlier application.
(3) The date of receipt accorded to documents subsequently filed with the European Patent Office in electronic form under Rule 2 EPC shall be the date on which they were received at the European Patent Office.
Acknowledgment of receipt
(1) Receipt of documents filed online in accordance with this decision shall be acknowledged electronically within the submission session by the European Patent Office or the competent national authority of the contracting state concerned.
(2) Where such acknowledgment is not successfully transmitted, the Office shall transmit it by other means without delay, provided it has sufficient information at its disposal.
(3) The acknowledgment shall include the identity of the Office, the date and time of receipt, a reference or application number assigned by the Office, a list of the files transferred, and a hash value (the message digest).
(4) Acknowledgment of receipt shall not imply the accordance of a date of filing.
(5) Documents filed on electronic data carriers shall be subject mutatis mutandis to the provisions governing the filing of documents on paper.
Illegible or incomplete documents and infected files
(1) Where a filed document is illegible or incomplete, that part of it which is illegible or incomplete shall be deemed not to have been received.
(2) If a filed document is infected with a computer virus or contains other malicious software, it shall be deemed to be illegible. The Office shall not be obliged to either open it or process it.
(3) Where a filed document is found to be deficient within the meaning of paragraph 1 or 2, the sender, if identifiable, shall be notified without delay.
Confirmation through the filing of paper documents
No paper documents need be filed to confirm documents filed electronically in accordance with this decision.
Previous decisions superseded
When this decision enters into force, the decision dated 12 July 2007 on the electronic filing of patent applications and other documents (Special edition No. 3, OJ EPO 2007, A.4) shall cease to have effect.
Entry into force
This decision shall enter into force on 5 March 2009.
Done at Munich, 26 February 2009