Decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 22 November 2022 concerning the format of oral proceedings before examining and opposition divisions, the Legal Division and the Receiving Section

This text is intended for publication in the Official Journal (OJ) of the EPO. It is made available in advance on the EPO website merely as a courtesy to the public. Only the text subsequently published in the officially certified PDF file of the OJ is authentic. It cannot be guaranteed that this advance version accurately replicates that text.

The President of the European Patent Office,

having regard to Articles 10(2)(a) and 116 of the European Patent Convention (EPC),

considering that oral proceedings by videoconference are oral proceedings within the meaning of Article 116 EPC,

has decided as follows:

Article 1

Format of oral proceedings before examining divisions, opposition divisions, the Legal Division and the Receiving Section

(1) Oral proceedings before examining divisions, opposition divisions, the Legal Division and the Receiving Section (hereinafter referred to as "the division") are to be held by videoconference.

(2) Notwithstanding paragraph 1, oral proceedings may be held on the premises of the European Patent Office, either at the request of a party or at the instigation of the division if there are serious reasons against holding the oral proceedings by videoconference. If a request to hold oral proceedings on the premises of the European Patent Office is refused, the parties will be informed of the reasons; such a refusal is not separately appealable.

Article 2

Participation in oral proceedings by videoconference; venue

(1) The members of an examining or opposition division may connect to the oral proceedings by videoconference from different locations.

(2) The parties, their representatives and any persons accompanying the parties or representatives, as well as any witnesses and experts, may connect to the oral proceedings by videoconference from different locations.

(3) The venue of the oral proceedings by videoconference is deemed to be the location where the division is set up.

Article 3

Submissions and their transmission during oral proceedings by videoconference

(1) During oral proceedings by videoconference, documents are to be filed by means of electronic communication in accordance with the decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 13 May 2020 concerning the filing of documents during telephone consultations and during interviews and oral proceedings held by videoconference (OJ EPO 2020, A71).

(2) Where there is more than one party to the proceedings, documents submitted by one of the parties in accordance with paragraph 1 will be transmitted to the other parties present during the oral proceedings by email to the email address specified by each of those parties.

Article 4

Technical problems

If technical problems preventing the oral proceedings by videoconference from being conducted in accordance with a party's rights under Articles 113 and 116 EPC cannot be overcome during the videoconference, the division will issue a new summons to oral proceedings.

Article 5

Non-attendance at oral proceedings by videoconference

(1) If a party fails to connect to the oral proceedings by videoconference for reasons other than technical problems, the proceedings may continue in accordance with Rule 115(2) EPC.

(2) A party, witness or expert who is duly summoned to give evidence before the European Patent Office and fails to connect to the oral proceedings by videoconference as instructed will be deemed not to have appeared.

Article 6

Admission of the public to oral proceedings before opposition divisions

Members of the public can follow oral proceedings before an opposition division remotely upon giving prior notice.

Article 7

Previous decisions superseded

When this decision enters into force, the following decisions will cease to have effect:

  • decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 10 November 2020 concerning the modification and extension of the pilot project for oral proceedings by videoconference before opposition divisions (OJ EPO 2020, A121);
  • decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 17 December 2020 concerning oral proceedings by videoconference before examining divisions (OJ EPO 2020, A134);
  • decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 9 June 2021 concerning oral proceedings by videoconference before the Receiving Section (OJ EPO 2021, A49);
  • decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 9 June 2021 concerning oral proceedings by videoconference before the Legal Division (OJ EPO 2021, A50);
  • decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 4 April 2022 concerning a further extension of the pilot project for oral proceedings by videoconference before opposition divisions (OJ EPO 2022, A43).

Article 8

Entry into force

This decision enters into force on 1 January 2023. It applies to all oral proceedings before examining and opposition divisions, the Legal Division and the Receiving Section that are scheduled to take place on or after that date.

Done at Munich, 22 November 2022

António CAMPINOS

President

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