Format of oral proceedings before examining divisions

In view of recurring enquiries to the EPO, users are reminded that oral proceedings before examining divisions will as a rule continue to be held by VICO. They may be held on the premises of the EPO only if there are serious reasons against holding them by VICO. In such cases, the oral proceedings are postponed until after 31 December 2022. Contrary to oral proceedings in opposition, the conduct of oral proceedings in examination by VICO is not subject of a pilot project.

In their decision in referral G 1/21, the Enlarged Board of Appeal has confirmed that oral proceedings in the form of a VICO are oral proceedings within the meaning of Article 116 EPC and comply with the principles of fairness of proceedings (Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights) and the right to be heard under Article 113(1) EPC.

The Office remains committed to further enhancing the user experience and to providing the best environment and services possible to ensure fair and efficient proceedings. In direct response to user feedback given at the end of oral proceedings and within the framework of last autumn's extensive consultation, digital whiteboards were recently introduced in Zoom for attorneys to sketch diagrams - like on a traditional flipchart - to better present their case.

Further information:

Decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 17 December 2020 concerning oral proceedings by videoconference before examining divisions

Frequently asked questions on oral proceedings by VICO

Technical guidelines for oral proceedings by VICO

Conclusions from user consultation on oral proceedings in opposition by VICO (September 2021)