As recalled in J 1/04 for instance, there is no obligation for an applicant having a principal place of business within an EPC contracting state to be represented in proceedings established by the Convention. If, however, the applicant wishes to be represented, he must authorise either an employee or a professional representative or legal practitioner.

The basic conditions applicable to representation by employees (Art. 133(3), first sentence EPC) are set out in the EPO's Guidelines for Examination A‑VIII, 1.5 "Signed authorisation" and 1.7 "Invitation to file an authorisation" – November 2015 version. Regarding an employee of a group of companies, T 2308/10 says that an employee of a company in such a group is not entitled to represent another company belonging to the same group. T 298/97 had already established that, there being no provision in the Implementing Regulations pursuant to Article 133(3), last sentence, EPC, the EPC did not currently allow the representation of one legal person by an employee of another economically related legal person.

In J 8/10 (OJ 2012, 472), which deals with a number of points relating to representation, the board observed that the main provision governing entitlement to act in EPO proceedings is Art. 134 EPC, legal practitioners' entitlement to act being regulated in particular by its paragraph 8. R. 152 EPC governs the filing and effects of authorisations.

The following section looks at problems addressed by the boards arising in cases where the parties are represented in proceedings, either by choice (see previous paragraphs) or by obligation (because they have no residence or principal place of business in a contracting state).

Art. 133 EPC contains the general principles governing representation with respect to proceedings under the EPC. It remains unchanged with the entry into force of the EPC 2000 (13 December 2007), save for minor editorial streamlining and changes aimed at increasing the consistency of the text of the EPC as a whole. Art. 134 EPC on representation before the EPO is likewise substantively unchanged but features some editorial amendments, in particular to take account of the deletion of Art. 163 EPC 1973, now largely superseded. The substance of the "grandfather clause" of Art. 163 EPC 1973 has in effect been integrated in Art. 134(3) EPC in simplified form as a permanent feature of the EPC designed to deal with the situation of national representatives of states acceding to the EPC in the future. The revised Art. 134 EPC is applicable as from the entry into force of the EPC 2000.

The Guidelines (November 2015 version) explain the developments in the area of representation, most notably in: A‑III, 2 "Representation"; A‑III, 16.2 "Period allowed for remedying deficiencies"; A‑VIII, 1 "Representation", also D‑I, 7 "Representation"; E‑II, 8.5 "Submissions by the parties"; and E‑III, 1.6.1 "General remarks", last paragraph. They also refer to the decisions of the EPO President dated 12 July 2007 (OJ SE 3/2007, A.3 and L.1.). Readers can find analyses of those decisions in, for example, T 267/08, J 8/10 and T 1744/09.

On the signature of documents see the Guidelines (November 2015 version), A‑VIII, 3 "Signature of documents", in particular A‑VIII, 3.2 and 3.3, along with A‑VIII, 2.5, and the decisions cited there, including the decision of the EPO President dated 26 February 2009 (OJ 2009, 182).

On notification to representatives, please see also R. 130 EPC, the Guidelines E‑I, 2.4 – November 2015 version, and Chapter III.O.

The HTML version of the EPC on www.epo.org provides regularly updated links, in particular to decisions of the President, in the footnotes to the relevant provisions.

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