Using Video-Conferencing for EPO Examiner Interviews and EPO Examining Division Oral Proceedings

Using Video-Conferencing for EPO Examiner Interviews and EPO Examining Division Oral Proceedings

Applicants can request for EPO examiner interviews and EPO Examining Division oral proceedings to proceed via video-conference. Video-conferencing is not available for EPO opposition division and board of appeal oral proceedings.

How do applicants obtain video-conference interviews or oral proceedings at the EPO?

It is necessary to make a request to the EPO examiner for a video-conference interview and to the EPO Examining Division for a video-conference oral proceedings. The EPO has a limited number of video-conference suites, and they are also used for internal meetings. Therefore, to increase the likelihood that a request for video-conference will be allowed, the request should be made as early as possible.

A request for video-conference oral proceedings might be made as part of a precautionary request early in examination proceedings, or in the form of a request to switch oral proceedings already scheduled to be held in-person to video-conference oral proceedings.

Use of our In-House video-conference facilities

All our offices have their own video-conference facilities which are compatible with those used by the EPO. These facilities are available for use by our attorneys in making video-conference calls to the EPO.

What cases are suitable for a video-conference?

Technical limitations mean that video-conferences are most suitable for cases in which there are few issues to discuss and those issues are well-defined.  This is often the situation in relation to EPO examiner interviews and EPO Examining Division oral proceedings.

An example situation where a video conference call to the EPO might be particularly useful would be where a client or applicant wishes to participate in the interview or oral proceedings, without attending in-person (see “Multi-way video-conferencing”, below).

Submissions of documents to the EPO during a video-conference

Documents can be filed during a video-conference by email.

Multi-way video-conference

A multi-way video-conference can be requested.  This can allow a client, applicant or inventor distant from the EPO to participate more easily in the interview or oral proceedings.  Indeed, the examiner or examining division may agree to start the video-conference at a time which facilitates participation from different time zones.  If you want the video-conference to be multi-way, please tell us as early as possible.

What happens if there is a technical problem on the day?

The EPO Guidelines indicate that where technical problems occur such that oral proceedings held by video-conference cannot be conducted openly and fairly, then the oral proceedings should be terminated and a new summons issued.

What happens if the request for a video-conference is refused?

Allowance of a request for a video-conference is entirely at the EPO examiner’s or the EPO Examining Division’s discretion. There is no possibility to appeal a refusal of a request for a video-conference.

This information is simplified and must not be taken as a definitive statement of the law or practice.