Oral proceedings before EPO: videoconference is new norm


Since COVID outbreak, videoconference became the new norm for oral proceedings before EPO, especially during examination proceedings.

It should indeed be reminded that usually, during examination of a European patent application before EPO, if all objections were not overcome after two examination reports, the Examining Division usually summons the applicant(s) to oral proceedings to try to overcome remaining objections.

This oral proceeding is the occasion to discuss with the whole Examining Division, and not only the instructing examiner, and allows most of the time to overcome objections.

Videoconference is very flexible and allows to drastically decrease costs as it is no longer necessary to travel to EPO premises.

Moreover, summons to attend oral proceedings are always accompanied with a provisional opinion of the Examining Division and a possibility is offered to the applicant(s) to submit new written arguments and/or amended application documents up to about a month before oral proceedings. If all objections are overcome by such written submissions, then the oral proceedings are cancelled. Oral proceedings should therefore no longer be viewed as expensive but rather as a flexible procedure to arrange the application for grant with a real time feedback from the Examining division as a whole.