C. PROCEDURE BEFORE SEARCH, EXAMINING AND OPPOSITION DIVISIONS
Decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 20 April 2012 concerning the filing of documents by e-mail during interviews and oral proceedings held as a video-conference
The President of the European Patent Office,
Having regard to Rule 2 EPC,
Having regard to the need for a rapid means of transmitting documents during interviews and oral proceedings held as a video-conference
Having regard to the particular situation in video-conferences, and to the fact that the submission of documents by e-mail is to be referred to in the minutes under Rule 124 EPC as one of the essentials of the oral proceedings,
Has decided as follows:
Admissibility of filing by e-mail during video-conferences
(1) Where interviews and oral proceedings before an examining division are held as a video-conference, documents filed subsequently as referred to in Rule 50 EPC may be filed by e-mail.
(2) The present decision shall apply only to the submission of documents during video-conferences.
Filing of authorisations
Article 1 shall not apply to authorisations.
(1) Where filed documents require signature, this signature may be applied to the attached document or to the text of the accompanying e-mail.
(2) The signature shall take the form of a string of characters or of a facsimile signature.
(3) The string of characters which is selected by the signatory to provide evidence of his identity and of his intent to authenticate the message in question shall clearly indicate the person's name and position.
(4) A facsimile signature shall be the facsimile reproduction of the person's signature.
The documents shall be sent to the e-mail address indicated during the video-conference.
(1) Amended application documents shall be filed as attachments.
(2) Attachments containing these amended application documents shall be in PDF format and shall comply with the WIPO Standard for Filing and Processing in Electronic Form (Annex F).
(3) Where an attachment containing these amended application documents does not comply with paragraph 2 or is illegible or incomplete, the examining division or the examiner shall promptly inform the applicant during the video-conference. Where the deficiencies cannot be remedied during the video-conference or within the time limit set by the examining division, that document (or that part of the document which is illegible or incomplete) shall be deemed not to have been received.
(4) Other attachments may be sent in any format which can be opened by the examining division or (in the case of an interview) the examiner and which can be reproduced in a legible form. Otherwise they shall be deemed not to have been filed.
Confirmation through the filing of paper documents
No paper documents need be filed to confirm documents filed by e-mail in accordance with this decision, unless the applicant is invited to supply confirmation by the examining division or the examiner during the video-conference. In response to such an invitation, confirmation shall be supplied within a period of two months. If the applicant fails to comply with this invitation in due time, the documents shall be deemed not to have been received.
Integrity of the file
All submissions made by e-mail during a video-conference shall be added to the public part of the file, unless the exceptions under Rule 144 EPC and the decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 12 July 2007 concerning documents excluded from file inspection1 apply. A confidentiality note which is routinely included in e-mails shall not be regarded as a request to exclude these submissions from the public file.
It shall be borne in mind that e-mail filing does not offer the same protection against access by third parties as EPO Online Filing.
When this decision enters into force, the notice dated 2 June 1999 concerning correspondence with the Office via e-mail2 and the notice dated 12 September 2000 concerning correspondence with the Office via e-mail3 shall cease to apply to the use of e-mails in interviews and oral proceedings held as a video-conference.
Entry into force
This decision shall enter into force on 1 May 2012.
Done at Munich, 20 April 2012