The European Patent Office shall constitute, maintain and preserve files relating to all European patent applications and patents in electronic form.
The President of the European Patent Office shall determine all necessary technical and administrative arrangements relating to the management of electronic files according to paragraph 1.
Documents incorporated in an electronic file shall be considered to be originals. The initial paper version of such documents shall only be destroyed after expiry of at least five years. This preservation period starts at the end of the year in which the document was incorporated in the electronic file.
Any files shall be preserved for at least five years from the end of the year in which:
the application is refused or withdrawn or is deemed to be withdrawn;
the patent is revoked by the European Patent Office; or
the patent or the corresponding protection under Article 63, paragraph 2, lapses in the last of the designated States.
Without prejudice to paragraph 4, files relating to applications which have given rise to divisional applications under Article 76 or new applications under Article 61, paragraph 1(b), shall be preserved for at least the same period as the files relating to any one of these last applications. The same shall apply to files relating to any resulting European patents.
See decision of the President of the EPO of 12.07.2007 concerning use of the PHOENIX electronic file system for the creation, maintenance and preservation of files (Special edition No. 3, OJ EPO 2007, J.1).
See decision of the President of the EPO of 11.03.2015 concerning the pilot project to introduce new means of electronic communication in EPO proceedings (OJ EPO 2015, A28).