What is the difference between digital (smart card), alphabetical and facsimile signatures?

Each smart card contains a personal electronic key, which is equivalent to a "live" signature in the paper world. Only authorised representatives, i.e. professional representatives before the EPO and authorised employees whose names are entered in the official list maintained by the EPO, are entitled to use a smart card to sign their submissions.

An alphabetical or text string signature is a string of alphabetical characters, preceded and followed by a forward slash [/], selected by an individual person to provide evidence of their identity and their intent to sign the document in question. The name of an authorised representative without the forward slashes cannot be used to replace such a signature.

A facsimile signature is a scanned image of a handwritten signature. The image file (in TIFF or JPEG format) is attached to the application.