CIPA welcomes extension of videoconferencing at the EPO

Date published: 13 November 2020

Businesses will benefit from improved access to justice, lower costs and speedier decisions in future thanks to the European Patent Office’s continuing shift towards hearings by videoconference.

Most UK patent firms have been early adopters of videoconference technology. This means that UK businesses and other clients from across the world no longer have to consider proximity to EPO premises. They can attend from any location and rely on the world-leading expertise in virtual proceedings already developed by UK-based European Patent Attorneys.

Today (13 November) the President of the EPO Boards of Appeal and the Boards of Appeal Committee announced a consultation on changes to the Board’s rules of procedure to allow oral hearings by VC.

This follows an announcement by the EPO on Tuesday that all hearings below Appeal would shift to VC until at least mid-September next year, with implications for improved public safety as well as more efficient hearings.

Richard Mair, CIPA President, welcomed the news saying: “The experience of our members has largely been that EPO proceedings of all kinds are very well-suited to videoconference.

“Not only that, we have also found that it can dramatically improve accessibility and deliver better results, more speedily, and at a lower cost for everyone. 

“In-conference functions such as screen sharing and simultaneous side channels for communications have shown that the technology has come of age and in most respects now provides a real and improved alternative to in-person hearings.”

The EPO said it was increasing the use of videoconferencing in order to reduce the backlog of unresolved opposition hearings and to mitigate the spread of coronavirus to ensure the safety of staff.

Read the full announcement on the EPO website.