EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE
Information from the EPO
Notice from the European Patent Office dated 11 May 2022 concerning the web-based online service MyEPO Portfolio
1. Under its Strategic Plan 2023 the EPO is working towards a digital transformation that will deliver new online tools to better address user needs. In line with that goal, the EPO is launching MyEPO Portfolio, a secure, web-based online service for parties to proceedings before the EPO. It is designed to improve accessibility, enable the exchange of digital information and provide improved procedural guidance. MyEPO Portfolio builds on the experience gathered during the user area pilot project, which is now concluded.
2. After its launch, MyEPO Portfolio will be accessible from MyEPO, an area on the EPO website that will provide access to a variety of EPO online services in the future, with additional services added over time. A suite of user guides and tutorials will be available for each service.
II. MyEPO Portfolio
3. MyEPO Portfolio will allow inspection of documents in the electronic file, provide access to electronic notifications in EPO proceedings (Mailbox) and offer a contemporary, simplified approach to making procedural submissions. It will offer an interface that is more user-friendly, intuitive and accessible to all kinds of users. Initially, users will require an EPO smart card for access to MyEPO Portfolio and for authentication to perform certain actions. During the course of 2022, a range of new functionalities will be added to MyEPO Portfolio. These will be announced in a dedicated section of the EPO website or in the Official Journal. Alternatives to the smart card will also be launched.
4. Almost all EPO correspondence in European proceedings can already be notified electronically. MyEPO Portfolio incorporates improved functionalities and design compared to the existing way of accessing the Mailbox service. Nonetheless, both options for accessing Mailbox will remain available. The same decisions, summonses, notices and communications will be made available in Mailbox, regardless of how it is accessed. A list of all communications which are notified electronically to Mailbox is available on the EPO website.1
5. MyEPO Portfolio is intended to eventually replace the Mailbox and My Files services and to become the sole point of access to Mailbox. Users will be given sufficient advance notice to prepare for these changes.
6. Mailbox is expected to be made available to the remaining user groups, namely international agents and non-European parties acting before the EPO, during the course of 2022.
7. The Administration feature in MyEPO Portfolio allows for the administration of the access rights of smart card holders, including paralegals, according to the principles set out in the user guide.
8. Users can set up email alerts in MyEPO Portfolio. The user defines the relevant events which trigger an email alert. One alert is sent on any day when such an event occurs. The alert will contain a generic statement indicating that a new communication has been transmitted to Mailbox, that a deadline is approaching or that a task has been created. The alert does not contain any information regarding the communication or application to which the alert pertains.
9. The provision of alerts is a courtesy service. Notification of communications is entirely independent of the receipt of an email alert. Failure to receive an alert has no legal consequences. Users are reminded to check Mailbox frequently for new communications.
Inspection of files relating to European patent applications and European patents included in the user's portfolio
10. This service incorporates most of the functionalities of the current My Files service as well as offering improvements, such as a contemporary design and a simpler user experience and interface. The portfolio will provide an overview of, and enable inspection of, the files belonging to the patent applications and granted patents for which the European professional representative or legal practitioner accessing the service is appointed, regardless of the stage of the proceedings before the EPO.
11. When viewing the content of the electronic file, users will be able to see documents in the original data format in which they were filed. This means, for instance, that if these documents in their original data format contain parts in colour, these parts will be displayed in colour in MyEPO. Initially, viewing of the application portfolio will be available only to European professional representatives and legal practitioners entitled to act under Article 134(8) EPC. They may, however, delegate access to their unpublished applications to employees of the same company or firm, as set out in the user guide.
12. In addition, any user may inspect the documents in the electronic file of a published European patent application or patent via MyEPO Portfolio.
13. Users will be able to perform procedural acts within the prescribed period in reply to a communication from the EPO ("tasks"); file procedural requests which are not subject to a period and not in reply to a communication from the EPO ("actions"); and submit documents accompanying these tasks and actions. Initially, only the tasks listed in Article 3(6) of the decision2 of the President of the European Patent Office dated 11 May 2022 concerning the web-based online service MyEPO Portfolio will be available.
14. Unlike other EPO filing tools, the electronic filing service in MyEPO Portfolio will use a structured workflow for entering relevant content. This new approach will make it simpler for users to perform procedural acts and file requests while reducing the risk of error. It will also enable the EPO to capture and process all submissions as structured data. Users will be guided through the submission process with the aid of relevant procedural information and in alignment with the EPC and the Guidelines for Examination. Plausibility checks and validations will ensure transparency for the user and compliance with the EPO procedures and requirements.
15. Other electronic filing tools will remain available.
16. Communications from the EPO to be replied to within a prescribed period will be both notified via Mailbox and reflected in a menu containing the tasks to be performed. The menu will be displayed in the pending tasks area. The final date for completing a specific task will be indicated. This date will reflect the rules for calculating periods under the EPC and the closure days of the EPO filing offices under Rule 134(1) EPC.
17. Any subsequent, complementary submissions to be made during the period for completing a procedural act – for example corrections to the amendments submitted in reply to the communication under Rule 71(3) EPC – must be filed using other means.
18. A task will be automatically removed from the task menu once it has been performed or – if the task is not performed by the date indicated (i.e. within the period to be observed) – once a notice of loss of rights under Rule 112(1) EPC has been issued. See also point 22 below.
19. When performing tasks or actions, users will be able to upload accompanying documents as attachments – for example grounds in support of a request or amendments to the application documents. The admissible formats for these attachments will be PDF and TIFF.
20. As a final step in the filing process, users will be invited to confirm the filing on the basis of an automatically generated document reproducing the electronic filing in its entirety (i.e. a request or reply to an EPO communication together with any accompanying documents). Upon confirmation of the submission, it will immediately be added to the file of the corresponding patent application or patent and made available for public inspection in accordance with Article 128 EPC. The automatically generated document reproducing the electronic filing in its entirety is considered to be the filing and, as a rule, prevails in the case of conflict with the user's intended choices in the electronic workflow. It is therefore recommended to carefully examine the content of the automatically generated document prior to finalising the submission.
21. Professional representatives or legal practitioners may delegate the preparation of any task or action to employees of the same company or firm, as set out in the user guide. The submissions prepared by those employees will then be revised and eventually signed and submitted by the appointed representative.
22. As far as replying to the communication about the intention to grant is concerned, users will be able to perform any acts, submit any requests and act on any follow-up communication directly linked to that reply. For example they will be able to submit a translation of the claims, file amendments to the text proposed for grant or request the correction or update of the application's bibliographic data. If they fail to observe the four-month period for reply, they will be able to file a request for further processing and for a decision under Rule 112(2) EPC until the corresponding notice of loss of rights under Rule 112(1) EPC has been dispatched. Once this notice has been issued and notified via Mailbox, a new task will be generated ("react to the noting of loss of rights") and can be completed by requesting further processing (see also points 18 and 19 above). Should the examining division issue a communication raising an objection to any of the requests for correction or update of the bibliographic data of the application submitted along with the reply to the communication under Rule 71(3) EPC, it will be notified to the Mailbox and a new task for the applicant will be generated. The same holds for any communication raising potential inconsistencies in the translations of the claims filed in reply to the communication under Rule 71(3) EPC.
23. Fees can be paid via one of the existing online tools (Central Fee Payment, Online Filing or Online Fee Payment). Where a procedural act requires the payment of a fee, users will be informed accordingly. To facilitate payment, a summary of the fees due and a link to Central Fee Payment will be displayed for the user. For more information, see the notice from the European Patent Office dated 13 July 2021 concerning Central Fee Payment.
24. The launch of further actions and tasks in MyEPO Portfolio will be announced in a dedicated section of the EPO website or in the Official Journal. The further tasks that may be added subsequently to MyEPO Portfolio include the reply to the extended European search report (Rule 70a EPC), the reply to a communication in examination under Article 94(3) EPC and submissions in preparation for oral proceedings in examination (Rule 116 EPC). The actions that may be added include requesting the correction or update of an application's bibliographic data, requesting the registration of a transfer of rights (Rule 22 EPC) and giving notice of withdrawal from representation.
III. Other EPO services
25. In MyEPO, links will be provided to a variety of the EPO's other online services, including Online Filing 2.0, Central Fee Payment and Web-Form Filing. The other EPO online services will be unaffected by the launch of MyEPO and MyEPO Portfolio. Users may in particular continue to use My Files and access Mailbox in the existing way after the launch of MyEPO.