In January the EPO dispensed with the practice of seeking consent from all parties when using video conference (VICO) in opposition and appeal oral proceedings as we previously reported. As such, most oral proceedings will take place via video conference as standard practice.
Carpmaels & Ransford has built up a wealth of experience in representing clients in oral proceedings held by VICO, and we were involved in one of the first video conference inter partes hearings to take place in April 2020.
With the news that video conferencing is likely to be the norm for many EPO hearings in the foreseeable future, we have created four custom-designed EPO hearing suites. These suites enable us to host multiple hearings simultaneously.
Since the beginning of this year, we have conducted 32 oral proceedings by videolink, and we hosted eight hearings alone in the first week of the new facilities going live. Whilst there is potentially a challenge underway, via a referral to the Enlarged Board of Appeal, concerning the legality of oral proceedings being conducted by VICO, we have multiple hearings already diarised to occur by VICO in the coming six months and whatever the outcome of that challenge, we anticipate to conduct many more in the years to come.
The new suites are designed to ensure that hearings run smoothly and consistently, minimising the risk of technical issues and allowing participants to focus entirely on the hearing. The suites have been fitted out with custom seating and large screens so as to create an immersive hearing environment and replicate the experience of being at the EPO.
The new facilities will also provide another option for our litigators and their clients when conducting court hearings remotely in the future. Unlike many European jurisdictions, the civil courts in the UK have remained operational throughout the pandemic, predominantly through remote and hybrid hearings and it has been possible for several trials to successfully be run entirely remotely. Further details can be found in our recent briefing.
Hugh Goodfellow, Managing Partner, comments:
“Our IT and Facilities teams have done a fantastic job in creating these new VC suites which will ensure clear and effective communication with the Boards of Appeal, Opposition and Examining Divisions, along with our clients wherever they are located. We look forward to welcoming clients to experience the new facilities in person when government guidance allows.”