EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE
Information from the EPO
Notice from the European Patent Office dated 19 August 2021 concerning the termination of the pilot project on notification by email during examination proceedings under the decision of the Vice-President Legal and International Affairs (Directorate-General 5) of the European Patent Office dated 23 July 2020
On 1 September 2020, the EPO launched a pilot project permitting examining divisions to use email to notify important information about oral proceedings after expiry of the period for making written submissions fixed under Rule 116(1) EPC (see decision of the Vice-President Legal and International Affairs (Directorate-General 5) of the European Patent Office dated 23 July 2020, OJ EPO 2020, A89). The main objective of this pilot project was to test the suitability and reliability of using email instead of fax in such cases. The project was set to run for one year, with the possibility of extension. It is not being extended and will therefore come to an end on 31 August 2021.
Following on from the project and as part of the acceleration of its digital transformation journey, the EPO has significantly expanded the coverage of the Mailbox service to widen the range of communications that can be notified to the Mailbox (see OJ EPO 2021, A371). It has also extended the group of users that can request registration for notification via the Mailbox to include legal practitioners within the meaning of Article 134(8) EPC and applicants having their residence or principal place of business in an EPC contracting state, irrespective of whether they are acting under the PCT or the EPC (see OJ EPO 2021, A52). As a result, the Mailbox is now being used by an increasing number of users and for almost all communications (see epo.org/service-support/faq/online-services/mailbox.html).
Later this year, the EPO will be launching a new pilot project for its user area services. The user area project will offer users a single access point to multiple services, including the EPO Mailbox, as well as a simplified and modernised approach to procedural submissions.3
3 See decision of the Vice-President Legal and International Affairs of the European Patent Office (Directorate-General 5) dated 19 August 2021 concerning the user area pilot (OJ EPO 2021, A64) and notice from the European Patent Office dated 19 August 2021 concerning the user area pilot (OJ EPO 2021, A65).