15 March 2023
On 28 February, user representatives from Europe, China, Japan, Korea and the United States participated in an online meeting of the Working Party on e-Patent Process of the Standing Advisory Committee before the EPO (eSACEPO). The delegates discussed two vital areas within SP2023: digital transformation in the patent grant process and advances in online services.
During the meeting, the EPO's presentations on recent IT developments led to lively discussions. User representatives were satisfied with the possibilities for using smart cards in transactions with the EPO and noted the discontinuation of fax. Delegates appreciated the emergency solution for filing documents or applications that will be offered if online services are unavailable (similar to the WIPO Contingency Upload Service). The participants also welcomed the change of practice following from the abolition of the "10-day rule" as of 1 November 2023, as well as the planned integration of Central Fee Payment into MyEPO Portfolio by the second quarter of 2023.
User representatives enquired about practical aspects related to IT implementation, such as how to request unitary effect or deferral of grant for their applications. They expressed a wish for a single search option that would replace the need for several search tools. The EPO explained that simplification of the search tools is desired in the long term.
Users were also informed about the latest Front Office developments, which are part of the EPO's IT co-operation programme. The programme supports the filing of national patent applications and will be rolled out to nine IP offices this year.
The eSACEPO meeting provided an excellent forum for in-depth exchange. The EPO is grateful for this opportunity to better understand users' needs and views on strategic topics supporting our digital transformation. Since the three-year appointment cycle for SACEPO members will be completed by the end of 2023, the next annual eSACEPO will include new representatives from industry. The EPO looks forward to continuing the open dialogue with users to improve further its digitalisation efforts.