Oral proceedings can be held on the premises of the EPO or are held by videoconference. In exceptional circumstances, where so permitted. Oral proceedings by videoconference are equivalent to oral proceedings held on the premises of the European Patent Office (OJ EPO 2020, A134, Article 1(3); OJ EPO 2020, A121, Article 2(3)). Oral proceedings before examining divisions, the Receiving Section and the Legal Division are generally held by videoconference, either at the request of the applicant or at the instigation of the competent department unless there are serious reasons against holding the oral proceedings by videoconference, they may be held on the premises of the EPO (OJ EPO 2020, A134, Article 1(2); OJ EPO 2021, A49, Article 1(2); OJ EPO 2021, A50, Article 1(2)OJ EPO 2022, A103). Examples of serious reasons are, in particular, reasons relating to a participant to the oral proceedings as an individual (e.g. a proven visual impairment that prevents a representative from following oral proceedings on screen) and reasons related to the nature and subject-matter of the proceedings (e.g. where they involve the demonstration or inspection of an object where the haptic features are essential, to the extent that this is possible in accordance with the applicable provisions). Sweeping objections against the reliability of videoconferencing technology or the non-availability of videoconferencing equipment will, as a rule, not qualify as serious reasons in this regard.
Participants must ensure that their videoconferencing equipment meets the technical requirements specified. They are encouraged to perform a test call well before the oral proceedings take place.
In addition to the summons, participants will receive an email confirming the date, time and the videoconference contact details to be used to establish the connection (in the form of a link or by other suitable means) and containing any further appropriate information, including on the organisation of the videoconference.