HomeInsightsEuropean Patent Office extends pilot project for oral proceedings in opposition by videoconference (VICO) to 31 December 2022

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The President of the EPO has decided to further extend the pilot project until 31 December 2022. The EPO says that the extension reflects the EPO’s continuing concern for the health and safety of staff and visitors in the light of the ongoing pandemic and provides an opportunity to release additional tools and procedures in relation to VICO. Where there are serious reasons preventing the use of VICO for oral proceedings in opposition, the proceedings will be postponed until after 31 December 2022. Requests for on-site oral proceedings will be evaluated by an expert panel.

The EPO says that to help attorneys better present their case in oral proceedings by VICO, additional features are being implemented in Zoom. These include digital whiteboards for use by attorneys to sketch diagrams to support their arguments. Additional audio channels will also be made available if requested in advance by the parties to facilitate interpretation into admissible non-EPO languages. Digital deliberation or breakout rooms will also allow parties to confer in private. The EPO says that it will continue to update and broaden its training portfolio to help representatives familiarise themselves with these new features.

The improvements are in direct response to user feedback given at the end of oral proceedings and within the framework of last autumn’s extensive consultation, which concluded that two-thirds of attorneys rate VICO as “very good” or “good”. The ID checks for parties prior to the start of oral proceedings are also being simplified, again in response to user feedback. The EPO says that feedback and suggestions received during the remaining phase of the pilot project will determine further improvements. To read the EPO’s announcement in full, click here.

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