Updated notice from the European Patent Office dated 15 November 2018 concerning interviews and oral proceedings to be held as a video-conference[ 1 ]
Applicants and their representatives may request that an interview or oral proceedings before an examining division be held as a video-conference. In view of the increased use of IP/internet-based video-conferencing and following its adoption of a new communication platform, the EPO now offers more user-friendly technology and means for this.
Video-conferences will be conducted using IP technology (SIP, H.323, secure web-based and legacy systems). The person who requested the video-conference will be provided with an electronic link allowing them to establish a connection with the EPO where the request is granted.
Given the reduced use of ISDN connections, the EPO will cease to support video-conferencing via ISDN at the end of 2018.
1. How to request a video-conference
A request for an interview or oral proceedings to be held as a video-conference should be filed with the EPO in the same way as any other request concerning a pending European patent application.
In order to facilitate room booking, requests should be filed as early as possible, preferably together with the request for an interview or oral proceedings. Please note that if the date of an interview or oral proceedings has already been scheduled when a video-conference is requested, the unavailability of video-conference facilities on that date is not a valid reason for postponement.
Oral proceedings held by video-conference are equivalent to oral proceedings held in the traditional manner on the premises of the EPO. Consequently, a request for further oral proceedings before the same department (whether by video-conference or any other form) may be refused where the parties and the subject of the proceedings are the same (Article 116(1) EPC). It is emphasised that the decision to accept the request for video-conference oral proceedings is at the discretion of the examining division (see point 2).
2. Organisation of a video-conference
The first examiner, in the case of a request for interview to be held as a video-conference, or the examining division, in the case of oral proceedings, has discretionary power and will decide on the suitability of video-conferencing on a case-by-case basis.
If the request cannot be allowed, the person making the request will be informed by a communication stating the reasons for the refusal. No appealable decision will be issued on the matter. If the request is allowed, the person making the request will be contacted in order to arrange the date and time of the video-conference, which has to be on a working day within EPO working hours. The date, time and the video-conference contact details to be used to establish the connection will be confirmed by a written communication, fax or email containing any further appropriate information. By requesting a video-conference, the applicant agrees to receive any information necessary for organising a video-conference by email (Notice dated 12 September 2000 concerning correspondence with the Office via e-mail, OJ EPO 2000, 458). A communication containing information on the organisation of a video-conference does not replace the summons to oral proceedings.
3. Equipment and costs
The EPO video-conference studios are for internal use only and therefore not available for applicants' or representatives' own use.
Applicants or representatives must ensure that their video-conference equipment meet the technical requirements specified in the communication allowing the video-conference. They are encouraged to set up a connection to a demonstration system well before the oral proceedings take place.
The EPO does not require the payment of a specific fee for holding an interview or oral proceedings as a video-conference. The person making the request bears only the costs for their own connection to the internet.
Further information on the technology and procedure for conducting interviews and oral proceedings as a video-conference will be published on the EPO website.
[ 1 ] This information supersedes the previous notices concerning interviews and oral proceedings to be held as a video-conference (OJ EPO 2012, 354).