Extension to oral proceedings by videoconference in opposition proceedings
The pilot project for oral proceedings held by videoconference (VICO) in opposition cases has been further extended to 31 December 2022. This is due to ongoing safety concerns about the coronavirus pandemic and following positive feedback from users, with two-thirds of attorneys rating it “very good” or “good” in a recent consultation.
If there are serious reasons why VICO cannot be used then a request for in person hearings should be made which will be assessed by an expert panel. If the request is deemed admissible then oral proceedings will be postponed until after 31 December 2022.
Following feedback, new features have been added to Zoom to help attorneys present their case, including:
- Digital whiteboards for sketching arguments,
- Extra audio channels (if requested in advance) for interpretation of admissible non-EPO languages,
- Digital break out rooms for private discussions, and
- Simplification of online ID checks which entering VICO
The EPO states that the benefits of VICO have been numerous including the reduction in the backlog of opposition cases to pre-pandemic levels (350 cases on average held per month over the last 6 months); cost and time savings to users and environmental benefits due to reduced emissions from travel.
This update was prepared by HGF Professional Standards Officer Dr Edward Pullicino.