23 June 2021
Zoom has proven to be a reliable and secure videoconference platform for conducting oral proceedings (OPs). This is confirmed by the positive experiences gained over the last months from OPs held via this platform, in appeal, opposition (entirely so since January) and in examination (dozens conducted since May). The EPO is grateful to those applicants and representatives who kindly agreed to the ad hoc conversion of their examination OPs to Zoom as part of our trial this spring.
With effect from 1 October 2021, all OPs before the Receiving Section, the Legal Division and the Examining Divisions will thus be held exclusively by Zoom.
The EPO has decided to decommission Skype for Business as of 1 October 2021. Any OPs already scheduled to take place via Skype for Business will thus be converted to Zoom as of that date. Users are therefore encouraged to take all necessary steps to adapt their videoconferencing tools accordingly, as this platform may also be used for personal consultations.
The EPO website already features updated Frequently Asked Questions on this topic. The European Patent Academy provides extensive training materials in relation to OPs by VICO. Additional training courses hosted on the Academy's e-learning centre, and directed towards OPs by videoconference for both examination and opposition, will be advertised shortly.