Autumn meeting of SACEPO Working Party on Rules

On 26 October, the EPO's Standing Advisory Committee (SACEPO) Working Party on Rules held its autumn meeting in hybrid format.  Representatives from BusinessEurope, epi, AIPPI, FICPI and UNION-IP and members of the EPO management very constructively exchanged views on the latest developments in digital transformation.

The EPO started off by updating users on the recent work within the convergence programme, which now focuses on the topics “Allowable features in drawings” and “Issuing and accepting electronic priority documents”.

Last year already, consultations started in SACEPO on the legal changes to support the further digitalisation and simplification of the patent grant process. This time proposals coming from SACEPO members and user associations as well as the EPO were presented and users were consulted on the series of legislative and procedural measures identified for a second basket of legal changes. The proposals for rule changes as well as the procedural aspects were met with support and the efforts of the EPO for simplification were said to be worth the effort. Valuable feedback and proposals regarding details were given and will be followed up.

The EPO also shared the latest developments in the new suite of MyEPO Portfolio, which launched in 2022. The representatives gave an overview of significant new features delivered in 2023, explained how the EPO is helping users transition to the new digital platform, and highlighted the upcoming milestones for the remainder of 2023 and 2024. SACEPO members expressed appreciation for the EPO’s efforts to reach out to users to facilitate the transitions.

In the same context, the EPO presented the new “Representative Area” in MyEPO Portfolio. This feature enables representatives registered on the list of professional representatives to administer their data in the register of representatives. 

During the meeting, the EPO’s proposal to align signature requirements within the PGP was also discussed. This simplification initiative seeks to align all signature requirements across the entire PGP, including in proceedings before the Legal Division and the Unitary Patent Division. The overarching goal of this effort is to streamline and fully digitalise the proceedings of the Office. Members welcomed this announcement and the advantages it will bring for the future processing of register data.

Representatives discussed proposals regarding the Rules relating to Fees and the fee policy package. The fee simplification proposals found support of the members. They shared views on the other proposed changes and the impact, in particular with regard to the linearity of the Internal Renewal Fees and the support to micro-entities could have on the EPO’s practice and applicants.

Finally, SACEPO members also had the opportunity to exchange on the recent developments in opposition mentioning the positive developments in multi-party opposition oral proceedings by video conference. The members also brought up practical topics and proposals concerning inter alia acceleration of opposition proceedings and the amendment of the register after the lapse of the opposition period.

The EPO looks forward to continuing the open dialogue with SACEPO members to complete the Office’s digital transformation and keep user representatives involved in all major developments.