Official Journal November 2021

Citation: A86
Online publication date: 30.11.2021

EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE


Information from the EPO

Notice from the European Patent Office dated 22 October 2021 concerning electronic signatures on documents submitted as evidence to support requests for registration of a transfer of rights under Rules 22 and 85 EPC and requests for registration of a licence or other rights under Rule 23 EPC

1. The present notice provides information about the practice of the Legal Division of the European Patent Office (EPO) in respect of electronic signatures attached to documents submitted as evidence to support requests for registration of a transfer of rights under Rules 22 and 85 EPC and requests for registration of a licence or other rights under Rule 23 EPC filed electronically in proceedings before the EPO (see Article 1 of the decision of the President of the EPO dated 3 March 2021 concerning the electronic filing of documents (OJ EPO 2021, A20, to be replaced on 1 January 2022 by the decision of the President of the EPO dated 14 May 2021 concerning the electronic filing of documents (OJ EPO 2021, A42)).

2. Under the practice applicable to date, the authenticity of the signature on documents submitted under Rules 22 and 85 EPC and Rule 23 EPC is confirmed by way of an original handwritten signature of the party concerned. To facilitate communication by electronic means, the Legal Division will accept, as from the date of publication of the present notice, qualified electronic signatures, in addition to handwritten signatures, in respect of evidence filed in support of requests for registration of a transfer of rights and for registration of a licence or other rights. A qualified electronic signature is considered to fulfil the legal requirement for a signature with respect to data in electronic form in the same way that a handwritten signature does with respect to data on paper.

3. For the purposes of this notice, the Legal Division will apply mutatis mutandis the definition provided in Regulation (EU) No 910/2014.[ 1 ]

Accordingly, a qualified electronic signature is an electronic signature that

(a) is uniquely linked to and capable of identifying the person signing;

(b) is created by means that the person signing can use with a high level of confidence and over which they have sole control;

(c) is associated with the electronic document to be authenticated in such a way that any subsequent change in the data is detectable;

(d) is created by a qualified electronic signature device; and

(e) is based on a qualified certificate.

4. The requester is required to establish that the electronically signed document meets the above requirements.

5. In each case, the Legal Division will examine whether the electronic signature attached to documents submitted electronically as supporting evidence under Rules 22 and 85 EPC and Rule 23 EPC meets these requirements. If the evidence presented is found to be unsatisfactory or where doubts arise as to the authenticity of the signature, the EPO may require the submission of further relevant documentary evidence.

6. Article 11 of the decision of the President of the EPO dated 3 March 2021 concerning the electronic filing of documents (OJ EPO 2021, A20, to be replaced on 1 January 2022 by Article 12 of the decision of the President of the EPO dated 14 May 2021 concerning the electronic filing of documents (OJ EPO 2021, A42)) does not apply to the signature attached to documents submitted as evidence to support requests under Rules 22 and 85 EPC and Rule 23 EPC.

7. This notice will apply to requests already pending on the date of its publication or filed thereafter.

 

 

[ 1 ] See Article 3(12) of Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market; Official Journal of the European Union of 28 August 2014, L 257/73.

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