19 May 2020
The EPO today published new guidance for users on how to conduct a hearing via video conference (ViCo).
The guidance, in the form of "Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQ), covers technical aspects as well as procedural issues and legal questions. The FAQ will be updated and supplemented with new information as questions arise from our users in the coming months. The EPO has also recently published a new e-learning module on oral proceedings before opposition divisions via ViCo. The training material includes short videos about the relevant legal provisions and technical set-up, as well as a 55-minute video recording of a mock opposition hearing with three EPO patent examiners from an opposition division and two patent attorneys.
The EPO has been providing applicants and their representatives with the opportunity to be heard via ViCo since 1998. Last year, 2 345 oral proceedings were conducted virtually, roughly 13% of all examination oral proceedings scheduled in 2019. Holding oral proceedings by ViCo has proven to be an equally effective, popular and sustainable alternative to face-to-face proceedings at EPO premises.
The EPO is committed to transparency, efficiency and fairness in all its dealings with applicants and third parties. These are the hallmarks of the world‑renowned, high‑quality European patent system the EPO promotes. By offering to hold oral proceedings using modern tools such as cost-effective, easily-accessible video conferences, the EPO continues to conduct vital business with a reduced impact on the environment.