Decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 10 November 2015 concerning the electronic filing of documents
The President of the European Patent Office,
having regard to Rule 2 EPC and Rule 89bis.1 and 2 PCT,
has decided as follows:
Admissibility of electronic filing
(1) Documents in proceedings under the EPC may be filed with the European Patent Office (EPO) in electronic form.
(2) European patent applications may also be filed in electronic form with the competent national authorities of those contracting states which so permit.
Filing of international patent applications and other documents
International (PCT) applications and other documents relating to international applications may be filed with the EPO in electronic form.
Filing of priority documents
Articles 1 and 2 do not apply to priority documents, unless they have been digitally signed by the issuing authority and the signature is accepted by the EPO.
Sequence listings must be filed in accordance with the relevant provisions. [ 1 ]
(1) Electronic filings of documents must be made online or on admissible electronic data carriers.
(2) Electronic filings are to be made using the software provided free of charge by the EPO.
(3) Subject to prior approval by the EPO, electronic filings may also be made using other software.
(4) Documents filed on an electronic data carrier must be accompanied by a paper document identifying the applicant and/or his representative, indicating an address for correspondence and listing the files stored on the data carrier.
Packaging of documents
(1) The submissions referred to in Articles 1 and 2 must be packaged using the software provided free of charge by the EPO.
(2) Subject to prior approval by the EPO, documents may also be packaged using other software.
(3) The Administrative Instructions under the PCT, Part 7 and Annex F, apply to the filing of international (PCT) applications and other documents within the meaning of Rule 89bis PCT.
(1) Where filed documents require signature, this may take the form of a facsimile signature, a text string signature or an enhanced electronic signature.
(2) A facsimile signature is a reproduction of the filing person's signature.
(3) A text string signature is a string of characters, preceded and followed by a forward slash (/), selected by the signatory to prove his identity and his intent to sign.
(4) An enhanced electronic signature is an electronic signature either issued by the EPO or accepted by it.
The authenticity of documents filed in accordance with Article 5(1) of this decision must be confirmed by means of the certificates of electronic signatures issued or accepted by the EPO.
Date of filing and date of receipt of documents
(1) The date of filing accorded to a patent application filed in electronic form is the date on which the application documents thus transmitted were received at the EPO or the competent national authority of the contracting state concerned (hereinafter "the office"), provided these documents satisfy the requirements of Article 80 EPC and Rule 40 EPC or of Article 11(1) PCT.
(2) The date of filing accorded to a divisional application filed in electronic form and meeting the requirements of Article 80 EPC and Rule 40 EPC is the date of filing of the earlier application.
(3) The date of receipt accorded to documents subsequently filed with the EPO in electronic form is the date on which they were received at the EPO.
Acknowledgment of receipt
(1) Receipt of documents filed online in accordance with this decision is acknowledged electronically within the submission session by the office.
(2) Where such acknowledgment is not successfully transmitted, the office will transmit it by other means without delay, provided it has sufficient information to do so.
(3) The acknowledgment indicates the identity of the office, the date and time of receipt, a reference or application number assigned by the office, a list of the files transferred, and a hash value (the message digest).
(4) Acknowledgment of receipt does not imply the accordance of a date of filing.
(5) Documents filed on electronic data carriers are subject mutatis mutandis to the provisions governing the filing of documents on paper.
Illegible or incomplete documents and infected files
(1) Where a filed document is illegible or incomplete, that part of it which is illegible or incomplete will be deemed not to have been received.
(2) If a filed document is infected with a computer virus or contains other malicious software, it will be deemed to be illegible. The office is not obliged to open or process it.
(3) Where a filed document is found to be deficient within the meaning of paragraph 1 or 2, the sender, if identifiable, will be notified without delay.
Confirmation on paper
No paper documents need be filed to confirm documents filed electronically in accordance with this decision.
Previous decisions superseded
When this decision enters into force, the decision dated 26 February 2009 on the electronic filing of documents (OJ EPO 2009, 182) will cease to have effect.
Entry into force
This decision enters into force on 16 November 2015.
Done at Munich, 10 November 2015
[ 1 ] Rule 30 EPC, Rule 13ter PCT, the decision of the President of the EPO dated 28 April 2011 on the filing of sequence listings (OJ EPO 2011, 372) and the notice from the EPO dated 18 October 2013 concerning the filing of sequence listings (OJ EPO 2013, 542).