Düsseldorf, November 18, 2020 – The European Patent Office (EPO) is planning to implement a new regulation on video conferencing for second-instance oral proceedings in future. The EPO has recently issued a new decision for first-instance oral proceedings, according to which consent of the parties is no longer required for proceedings to be held in the form of video conference (see C&F press release of 11/12/2020).
The EPO Boards of Appeal have now published a proposal for second-instance proceedings, whereby the Rules of Procedure should be amended to include a new Article 15a. This article would provide that the Boards of Appeal may hold oral proceedings via video conference in accordance with Article 116 of the European Patent Convention (EPC) if the Chair deems it appropriate, either upon request by a party or of its own motion. This would mean that holding oral proceedings in the form of a video conference would no longer depend on the consent of the parties, also before the Boards of Appeal.
The Boards of Appeal Committee has invited users to take part in a consultation on the proposed Article 15a of the Rules of Procedure. Cohausz & Florack (C&F) will participate in this consultation. The firm continues to be critical of the mandatory participation in video conferences. "Particularly in important or highly complex proceedings, the direct communication of all parties in the courtroom is irreplaceable", says Dr. Natalie Kirchhofer, patent attorney and partner of C&F. From experience, social distancing and hygiene regulations could be easily implemented in appropriately equipped courtrooms. "We consider it essential to be able to conduct oral proceedings face-to-face in order to guarantee a fair, transparent procedure and the best possible legal security for all sides", Dr. Arwed Burrichter, patent attorney and partner of C&F continues.
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