For the second time, the Working Party on e-Patent Process was held remotely. FICPI was represented by Elena Cerbaro (IT).


The meeting was centred again on presenting the work carried out over the last year and the projects that are being implemented by the EPO to increase the digitalisation of the work, to simplify the procedures and to cope better with the needs of the users following the EPO Strategic Plan. In addition, a quick presentation was made on the activities performed by the EPO in view of the upcoming start of the Unitary Patent Court.

After a brief introduction and a report of the progress reached across the EPO’s five goals (engaged, knowledgeable and collaborative organisation - People; simplification and modernisation - Tools, delivery of high quality products and service efficiency - Quality, building  of the system and network - Partners; and long-term sustainability - Future), the specific actions undertaken by the EPO were presented.

The EPO presented in particular its internal tools and discussed the need for more modern and more efficient work, as well more uniform decisions of the examiners (digital file repository, new search system called Ansera, increased use of AI as an aid in various steps, including in comparison of amended claims with  previous drafts and in searching support bases in the entire specification to identify possible new matter).

A positive evaluation of the so-called VICOs or video conferences (all performed though the Zoom platform) was made, based on the review of the log of cases (that showed that no disruptions happened that would have caused adjournment of the proceedings) and the results of a survey made among the users were discussed. The Enlarged Board of Appeal decision G1/21 was noted, as limited to appeal cases and emergency times. Although no decision for the future was reportedly taken, the positive results and the advantages of the VICO cause the EPO to think that, in spite of criticisms from a few, that the system will be maintained, with some improvements. On this point, comments and requests from the users were discussed in depth, in particular as regards interpretation.

The pilot programmes were presented, aimed at improving cooperation, increasing the efficiency of work and simplifying information recovery for both the EPO and the users. Of these, worth noting are the launch of a new site, increase in the number of activities that may be performed in the user area, changes in the automatic payment system, increase in number of actions that may be made in e-filing (oppositions) and  exchange of digital documents.

A brief, merely oral presentation on the actions being undertaken by the EPO in view of the expected start of the Unitary Patent Court was given. Although the EPO thinks that the system will not start until at least 2023, a first presentation of the forms and procedures will happen in the near future. A workshop for users is being prepared and will be held soon.

The other working parties (Rules, Patent Documentation and Information, Quality, Guidelines) will hold their meetings through March to May 2022 culminating in the main SACEPO scheduled for 23 June 2022.

Stay tuned to our reports from the meetings!


FICPI’s view and involvement and future work

FICPI’s SACEPO representatives will work primarily with the European Patent Study Group (CET4) on issues as they arise, as well as with the CET Executive and Bureau, when needed.  Reports and information on the meetings will be shared with the membership via the FICPI website and newsletter.

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