Pilot project for notification by email during examination proceedings

Another pilot project started by the EPO concerns notification by email during examination proceedings in relation to scheduled oral proceedings. The pilot project started on September 1, 2020 and will run until August 31, 2021.

The aim of the pilot project is to enable notices and other communications issued by an examining division during the procedural time frame between the final date for making written submissions and the date of the scheduled oral proceedings to be notified by email. These notices or communications are issued, for example, to notify applicants of a decision of the examining division on the maintenance, postponement or cancellation of the oral proceedings, together with the statement of reasons, but also to communicate preliminary assessment of written submissions. Exceptions are notices or communications by which a time limit is set in motion. Applicants will in turn be given the opportunity, under certain conditions, to reply to such notices or other communications by email.

To participate in the pilot project, the applicant has to give their consent to receiving any eligible notice or other communication by email. The applicant needs to provide the EPO with an email address at which they wish to receive any eligible notice or other communication from the examining division during the pilot project. The email address has to be communicated before the final date for filing written submissions. Upon applicant’s consent, any notices or other communications so notified will be sent as PDF attachments. The email will be deemed to have been transmitted on the date on which it is sent. Applicants will be required to acknowledge receipt promptly and may use email to file submissions in replay to any notice or other communication. For such submissions to be legally valid they must be sent to the central directorate email address.

The EPO thus establishes email exchange in advance prior to oral hearings in examination proceedings. Attention: Submissions sent to the email address of any member of the Examining Division will have no legal effect.

European Patent Office
EPO Official Journal 2020, A89, A90

December 7, 2020
Thorsten Brüntjen
Patent Attorney