INFORMATION FROM THE EPO
Notice from the European Patent Office dated 2 November 2010 concerning the revised procedure for acknowledging receipt of international applications filed in paper form
1. As from 1 March 2011, the European Patent Office (EPO) as receiving Office under the PCT will have in place an automated system for producing the "receipt for documents" for (purported) international applications filed with it in paper form (by hand, post or fax) on or after that date. It is therefore revising its procedure for acknowledging receipt of such applications.
2. The revised procedure, effective as from 1 March 2011, is described in Section I below. Applicants and their representatives are requested to adjust their administrative procedures as necessary.
3. Information about how to obtain immediate acknowledgement of receipt from the EPO is given in Section II.
I. Automated procedure for acknowledging receipt of an international application filed in paper form
4. Upon receipt of such an application, the EPO automatically generates a revised version of its Form 1031 ("Receipt for documents") and issues it by post.
5. This form acknowledges receipt of each document making up the international application (e.g. PCT request, description, claims, etc.) and each accompanying item (e.g. power of attorney, data carrier, priority document, fee calculation sheet, etc.) in accordance with the requirements under Rule 35(2) in conjunction with Article 150(2) EPC. The number of sheets making up a given document is not verified.
6. The EPO issues Form 1031 without delay and as a rule within four working days as from receipt of the international application at one of its filing offices (OJ EPO 2007, Special edition No. 3, A.1). That period includes the international application's date of receipt, unless it is received on a working day after 16.45 hrs CET (Central European Time) or on a non-working day.
7. As the receipt for documents is generated automatically, applicants must not fill in and submit Form 1031. As from 1 March 2011, the EPO will no longer make the form available and will disregard any submitted.
8. Automated EPO Form 1031 is sent to the applicant or agent, as applicable, at the address provided in the PCT request form (PCT/RO/101).
9. Applicants are reminded that since 1 July 2006 international applications must be filed in one copy only, not three (OJ EPO 2006, 439).
10. If the application is filed by fax, in addition to points 4 to 9 above the following procedure applies:
11. In accordance with Rule 92.4(c) PCT, the EPO promptly notifies the applicant by fax if any part of his fax transmission is illegible or incomplete.
12. Applicants are further reminded that if they submit an international application by fax they must also file a confirmation copy. This should be a single copy of each document making up the application and each accompanying document. In addition, as indicated in the notes to the PCT request form (PCT/RO/101), the first page of Form PCT/RO/101 should be marked "CONFIRMATION COPY", followed by the date of the fax transmission. Lastly, it is recommended that the confirmation copy be accompanied by Form 1032, which replaces Form 44121 and will be available on the EPO website as from 1 March 2011. The EPO's present practice of sending Form 44121 to the applicant together with Form 1031 will be discontinued as from the same date.
II. Alternative procedures
13. If the international application is filed online, receipt of the documents submitted is acknowledged electronically within the submission session (Article 10 of the decision of the President of the EPO dated 26 February 2009, OJ EPO 2009, 182). Applicants wishing to receive acknowledgement of receipt directly upon filing are therefore advised to file online.
14. If the application is filed in paper form (by hand, post or fax) and the applicant wants acknowledgement of receipt to be issued directly by fax, he may request this under the procedure set out in Article 8(4) of the decision of the President of the EPO dated 12 July 2007 (OJ EPO 2007, Special edition No. 3, A.3; Guidelines for Examination in the EPO, Part A-II, 3.1).
15. Applicants are reminded that the requirements for acknowledgement of receipt under said Article 8(4) are as follows:
(a) the request must be transmitted at the same time as the international application,
(b) evidence of payment of the administrative fee (e.g. a copy of a bank order) or a debit order must be enclosed, and
(c) the fax number to which the acknowledgement of receipt is to be sent must be provided.
16. If the applicant makes a request meeting these requirements, for applications received on a working day before 16.00 hrs CET (Friday: before 15.00 hrs CET) the EPO issues acknowledgement of receipt by fax on the same day. Otherwise it issues it on the following working day. In addition to the information provided in its Form 1031, the EPO will inform the applicant of the number of pages received only if the application was filed by fax.
17. If the applicant wants acknowledgement of receipt to be issued directly by post, he must explicitly request this and fulfil the requirements under point 15(a) and (b) above (Guidelines for Examination in the EPO, Part A-II, 3.1).