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FAQ - smart cards

Questions

General Information

Enrolment

Life circle: validity, activation, renewal, replacement, revocation

Administration

PIN code

Online Filing

Online Fee Payment

Certificates

cryptovision software

Web browser

Troubleshooting

EPO Smart cards and National offices

Answers

General Information


Which EPO Online Services do I need a smart card for?

The EPO Online Services which can/must be accessed using a smart card are:

  • Mailbox/My Files
  • Online Fee Payment
  • Administration
  • Online Filing
  • New Online Filing (CMS)

Why does the EPO use smart cards and how secure are they?

Smart cards are credit card-sized plastic cards that contain a microprocessor and a small amount of memory.

The EPO decided very early on in the planning process for its online services that the certificates which would allow users to conduct secure transactions with us would be stored on smart cards. Unlike passwords, smart cards allow us to provide the more secure two-factor authentication, comprising something that is held (the card) and something that is known (the PIN.) Two-factor authentication means that PINs can be simpler and therefore easier to remember than with a password, since, without the card, the PIN is useless, and vice versa. Also, the simpler PINs are not susceptible to brute-force attacks because the smart card locks out after several unsuccessful attempts to enter the PIN.

In addition to being small and portable, smart cards afford a much higher level of secure storage for certificates than, say, if they are stored on a hard drive. They offer tamper-proof storage of the user's private keys and digital certificates, are highly resistant to unauthorised deletion or copying of the certificates and keys, and any attempt to tamper with them requires significant effort which would invariably result in physical damage to the cards themselves. Also, it is easier to spot the loss or theft of a card than of a certificate stored on a computer.


How much does the smart card/reader/software package cost?

Smart card packages are supplied free of charge.


Is the EPO using new smart cards?

Yes. Smart cards are now valid for five years, and they are issued to the individual; this means you can take yours with you if you change employer or use it for several companies at a time.


Can I use my smart card to act on behalf of several companies?

It depends on the product you are using:

  • For Online Filing, yes.
  • For new online filing (CMS) and the administration portal (including Mailbox, My Files and Online Fee Payment), no. You will need a separate card for each company.

 


Enrolment


Our company would like to order several smart cards. Can we enrol for them in a batch?

No, this is not possible. Each person has to enrol individually (there is a secret security question for each card holder).


Can you issue a collective smart card in the name of my company?

No. We can only issue EPO smart cards to individual natural persons.


Can I have more than one smart card?

No. The EPO can only issue one smart card per person and legal entity.


How can I obtain a smart card?

You can enrol for an EPO smart card online.


What are the various stages involved in the smart card application procedure?

Please refer to the information on smart cards in the Security section.


Can I use a non-EPO smart card to access the EPO’s secure online services?

Some non-EPO smart cards can be registered online.


How long will I have to wait for my smart card?

Once we are in receipt of the signed and scanned copy of your enrolment form, your request will be processed and your new card will be delivered via the DHL courier service. You will receive a confirmation e-mail quoting the DHL tracking number once your card has been dispatched.

If you do not receive your smart card within 21 days, please contact us.

If we do not receive a signed and scanned copy of your enrolment form within two months of your online enrolment request, your smart card request will be automatically rejected. If you still require a card you will have to start the enrolment procedure again. Please send your signed and scanned copy of your enrolment to support@epo.org.


If I countersign an enrolment form for my secretary (I am an authorised representative), will she be entitled to sign applications with her smart card?

No, only authorised persons (representatives, authorised legal practitioners and employers) are allowed to use their smart card to sign applications.


Life circle: validity, activation, renewal, replacement, revocation


How long are EPO smart cards valid for?

EPO smart cards are now valid for five years. The validity date is indicated on the smart card.


My smart card is going to expire soon. How can I renew it?

The expiry date of your smart card is printed on the card next to your name. You can renew your card online up to 60 days prior to the expiry date. Your  new smart card will be sent to your current address via the DHL courier service. Thereafter, a new PIN code will be dispatched via standard post.


When I tried to renew my smart card I received the message "Your smart card has not been recognised as issued by the EPO". What should I do?

Please contact us for further assistance.


My smart card has expired. How can I get a new one?

If the expiry date has already passed, please contact us.


If I get a replacement or renewal smart card, will my PIN code stay the same?

No, each new smart card is allocated a new PIN code.


What do I need to do in order to revoke a smart card?

Smart card holder, or the company Administrator is obliged to request the revocation of a smart card. Please contact us.


What should I do with my revoked/expired smart card?

If your smart card has already expired or if you have already asked EPO User Support to revoke it, you should cut the smart card across the metallic chip and dispose of it. You do not need to return it to the EPO.


I have tried – but failed – to activate my new smart card via the link on EPO website. What should I do?

1) First check that you have the right software for new-generation smart cards.

You need to have the cryptovision software correctly installed for new-generation smart cards to work as they should.

If you have already installed the software, start by uninstalling it (it may not have downloaded properly the first time).

Please restart your computer after the installation.

2) Then check your smart card.

Ensure that your card is correctly inserted in the reader.

Open the cryptovision software; your token label and ID will be displayed.

3) Check that your web browser is correctly configured.

If you are using Internet Explorer 11, go to Tools and check the following under Internet Options to allow secure access to online services:

(a)  The Enable Protected Mode check box must be cleared.

Alternatively, add www.epo.org/ and https://my2.epoline.org/portal/ to the list of Trusted Sites.

(b) The TLS 1.2 check box must be selected.

If you are using Mozilla Firefox, please follow the procedure described here.

You should now be able to activate your smart card on our website.


Administration


What is a company portal?

When an individual requests a smart card, a portal is created at the EPO end. This portal is created from the information that the individual provides in the “Company details” field on the registration form.

It is essential for all future smart card requesters from the same company to provide exactly the same information in the “Company details” field (same spelling of company name) in order to be automatically assigned to the correct portal and user list.

The company portal is the gateway to the Administration facility, from which the company administrator manages the Online Services portal community.


What is the role of the company administrator?

The company administrator is the user responsible for defining user access to Online Fee Payment, the Mailbox and My Files. The company administrator can assign administrator rights to other smart card holders within your company, or revoke them.


Is my company obliged to have an administrator?

No, but if your company wants to have access to Online Fee Payment and the Mailbox service, you will need an administrator in order to be able to assign appropriate access rights.


PIN code


I have still not received my PIN code. What should I do?

If you have not received you PIN code, please contact us for assistance.


I have lost/forgotten my PIN code and can no longer use my smart card. What should I do?

Please contact us.


How can I change my PIN code?

Open the cryptovision Utility module and go to the Change PIN tab.


How can I check if my PIN code is correct and not blocked?

If your PIN is blocked, Internet Explorer and Chrome will show the following message when you try to log on to My.epoline or CMS.

In Mozilla Firefox, you will get an HTTP 400 error for My.epoline or a Secure Connection Failed error for CMS.


I have entered an incorrect PIN code and my smart card is now blocked. What should I do?

You should contact us with your smart card details and ask for your SO PIN. You will be required to answer the security question you provided when you first applied for your smart card.


Online Filing


What is the difference between digital (smart card), alphabetical and facsimile signatures?

Each smart card contains a personal electronic key, which is equivalent to a "live" signature in the paper world. Only authorised representatives, i.e. professional representatives before the EPO and authorised employees whose names are entered in the official list maintained by the EPO, are entitled to use a smart card to sign their submissions.

An alphabetical or text string signature is a string of alphabetical characters, preceded and followed by a forward slash [/], selected by an individual person to provide evidence of their identity and their intent to sign the document in question. The name of an authorised representative without the forward slashes cannot be used to replace such a signature.

A facsimile signature is a scanned image of a handwritten signature. The image file (in TIFF or JPEG format) is attached to the application.


I am an administrative assistant to a professional representative before the EPO but I am not a representative myself. Can I use Online Filing?

Yes. You can draft applications in File Manager and send them. However, any documents filed online must be signed by a person authorised to act in the proceedings in question.


My name is on the EPO list of authorised representatives but I am not an EPO professional representative. Can I use Online Filing?

Yes. You can draft, sign and send filings. You can use all three modes of signing: digital (via smart card), alphabetical or facsimile.


Online Fee Payment


What do I need to do to access the EPO's Online Fee Payment service?

You need a deposit account with the EPO, a smart card and smart card reader and an internet browser. Additionally, your company administrator must grant you access to the company portal.


Can I pay fees or view the balance of my EPO deposit account without a smart card?

No, you need a smart card to be able to do this.


I am trying to access and view our EPO deposit account but do not appear to have the necessary options when I log into the portal. What should I do?

First you should contact your company administrator and check if you have the rights to access the service, then you need to contact the EPO to check if your deposit account is correctly linked to your smart card.

Please contact us.


I’ve received and registered my smart card. How do I view the balance of my EPO deposit account?

As company administrator, you can give yourself access rights to the service.

See the Administration FAQs


Certificates


I seem to have accidentally removed the certificates from my smart card. What should I do?

Your smart card will have to be replaced. Contact us for assistance.


Can I sign e-mails with my EPO smart card?

No. The certificates in your smart card are meant for use with the EPO's Online Filing and secure online services only.


cryptovision software


Can I use any other smart card readers apart from the one supplied by the EPO?

We recommend that you use the readers we supply, as they have been tested and approved. However, you can also use any other reader that is recognised by the cryptovision software.

We cannot, however, offer support for readers not supplied by us.


My smart card reader is connected but no green light appears on the reader. What should I do?

Try changing the connecting lead to another USB port. If that does not work, try it on a different computer. If your reader works on another machine, you should consult your IT department. If not, please contact us.


I have connected my smart card reader to my computer. How do I turn the power on?

If the green light on your smart card reader is blinking, that means your smart card reader is switched on.

If the light is not blinking, plug the connecting lead into any functioning USB port on your computer.


The green light on my smart card reader is flashing. How do I know if the reader recognises my card?

The green light should go from blinking to steady when you insert your card. If it does not, check that the end of the card with the chip element is inserted face-up in the direction of the arrow, and that the cryptovision software is installed.


Is there any way of checking whether my smart card reader has been correctly installed?

When opening the cryptovision Utility module, your smart card's token label and ID are displayed. This confirms that your smart card reader is working properly.


What is the latest version of cryptovision?

The current version of cryptovision is 7.1.19.


Where can I get the cryptovision software?

You will find a link to cryptovision in the brochure accompanying your PIN code, or you can contact us.


Our Online Filing installation is server-based. Do we need to install cryptovision?

cryptovision must be installed on every PC where a smart card reader is used.


Could you provide me with the link to the latest version of cryptovision?

cryptovision 7.1.19 is now available. Please contact us for the link and the password.


Web browser


I use Mozilla Firefox as my web browser. How can I set it up to recognise my smart card?

For instructions please see our installation guide.


I have cryptovision installed. I am no longer able to log on to My.epoline. Instead I get the message "Page cannot be displayed” in Internet Explorer. What should I do?

  • Clear the Enable Protected Mode check box to allow secure access to EPO online services
  • Make sure that the check boxes Enable Integrated Windows Authentication and Use TLS 1.2 are selected in the Advanced tab under Tools/Internet Options.

If you are using Mozilla Firefox you should read our guide to the set-up procedure:


Troubleshooting


I am leaving my company today. Do I need to have my EPO smart card revoked?

No. At the beginning of 2013 the EPO opted for a new generation of smart cards. You are now issued a smart card as an individual rather than as an employee of a specific company. This allows you to use your smart card for several companies at a time and to take it with you when you change employer.

However, you will still need to contact the EPO to have the necessary changes made concerning your:

  • deposit account access
  • company name

Please contact us.


I cannot see a user in the “Users” tab of the company portal. What should I do?

Please contact us.


I’m the company administrator, and on the list of users I can still see the names of several users who have left our company. How can I remove them?

You cannot remove them. Please contact us.


I’m changing company. What do I do with my active smart card?

The smart card holder or the company administrator must contact the EPO in order to request the necessary changes (name of new company, deposit account).

Please contact us.


I’m leaving my company but I do not have a new employer. What do I do with my active smart card?

Please contact us.


EPO Smart cards and National offices


Can I use my EPO smart card to file patent applications online with national offices?

Yes. You can use your EPO smart card to file patent applications with most national offices, with the exception of the French patent office (INPI).


Do I need an INPI smart card to file patent applications online with the French patent office?

Yes. Contact INPI direct to request a smart card.


I noticed on the webpage that there is a tool for registering non-EPO smart cards. What cards are they?

At present, there are only two non-EPO cards approved for online transactions with the EPO. They are:

  • FINUID (issued by the Finnish government to Finnish citizens)
  • Ceres (issued to Spanish citizens)

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