The EPO’s official pilot scheme for running opposition oral proceedings by video conference was announced last week and comes into force on 4th May 2020 but, in the meantime, Partner Cameron Marshall took part in what may be the first real-life inter partes opposition hearing on 22nd April.
The three members of the opposition division gathered at the EPO in The Hague (appropriately distanced from each other) and hosted a video conference which brought together Cameron from the main VC suite at Carpmaels & Ransford’s London office and the patentee’s representative from his office in Hamburg, as well as the inventor who joined from Hong Kong and the patent’s licensees who joined from California (shortly after midnight, local time). There was a technical glitch or two, and as usual in any VC, people need to remember when to switch their microphones on and off, but nothing which couldn’t be rectified quite quickly.
Procedurally the VC was a close replica of normal in-person oral proceedings, although the absence of personal interaction was of course noticeable, and the process for the patentee to file new claim requests to deal with unexpected setbacks was slightly clumsy. After around five hours of the VC the patentee filed a new and restricted claim request which led to no further objections from Cameron, and the hearing was brought to a close after an amended description was filed (which proved to be no easier by VC than in person, unfortunately).
With this early experience, Carpmaels & Ransford is well placed to represent clients when the scheme officially comes into effect on 4th May.
For more information, please refer to our recent article on the EPO’s decision to conduct oral proceedings via video conference.