On 17 February 28 user representatives from Europe, China, Japan, Korea and the United States discussed the digital transformation of the patent grant process and advances in online services in accordance with the agenda and programmes of the EPO Strategic Plan 2023. Various features of the new online user engagement programme were explored in detail, with lively exchanges on user area access, electronic priority documents, digital grant certificates and the introduction of alternatives to the existing smart card technology for authentication.
This day-long online meeting of the Working Party on e-Patent Process of the Standing Advisory Committee before the EPO (eSACEPO) saw members welcome progress regarding the Mailbox, application and patent portfolios, the updated customer service management and plans for the new EPO website. The user representatives, who increasingly recognise the advantages of online hearings, also appreciated the updates regarding oral proceedings by videoconference at the EPO. They were also interested in the EPO’s report on patent knowledge-related initiatives and in the statistics and services provided by the EPO’s Central Enquiries Unit.
The EPO representatives informed the Working Party members about Online Filing 2.0, which replaced the CMS from 1 January 2022, and gave details on several IT co-operation projects. The EPO also explained the Central Fee Payment, which will replace the Online Fee Payment service and for which new functionalities are planned for 2022, such as deposit account management and an automatic debiting procedure.
Finally, a status report was presented regarding the EPO’s preparations for the launch of the Unitary Patent, which is planned to become operational during the second half of 2022.