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Thursday, 2 October 2014

Two new ways to file at the EPO

The current EPO online filing software, whose days are numbered...
The European Patent Office) EPO has publicly launched two new filing systems, which were in pilot testing until now. In due course these systems will replace the EPOline filing software currently used by most European patent attorneys (shown right). The first is called the case management system (“CMS”) and the second is the web-form filing service (which the IPKat will refer to as “WFS” for brevity).
 
Both new systems, CMS and WFS, are accessed via the web. However, they differ in two main respects, at least according to the respective Decisions of the President governing their use, found here and here.
  1. CMS requires an EPO smart card. Your current smart card will work, once it has been activated for use with CMS. WFS requires registration via the website, but no smart card, and relies on a secure http connection.
  2. CMS allows filing of a broader range of documents than WFS. The only documents excluded from filing with CMS are priority documents and documents relating to appeal proceedings or Enlarged Board review proceedings. WFS cannot be used for these documents or for filing documents in opposition, limitation or revocation proceedings, or for filing authorisations. Both systems can be used to file PCT applications and subsequent documents also.
This Kat has used CMS in a pilot version, but not WFS and so cannot compare the two directly, but it looks like CMS will be the preferred option for the more frequent user, due to its integration with the mailbox linked to the smart card, the wider range of documents that can be filed and the more secure and robust filing and confirmation process. Nevertheless, if one is working remotely from one’s smart card (or a computer lacking the not-very-friendly card reader software), it is reassuring to know that there is a web-based filing service that will allow most documents to be accepted.

Since you ask, the pilot testing suggested to this Kat at least that the CMS system is stable, easy to use, and a promising replacement for the existing software. (Merpel says, if only OHIM had taken time to check these basics before inflicting its web filing system on users last year... By the way, is OHIM's interface working 100% reliably for everyone yet?)

The ultimate goal of the EPO is to phase out the existing EPOline filing software and replace it entirely with the web-based solutions of CMS and WFS. As far as the IPKat is aware -- and he will be happy to correct this information if it is outdated -- the plan is to release CMS version 2 in the middle of 2015 and this will trigger a two-year countdown to withdrawing support for the existing software.

Web-form filing system
Since no launch would be complete without an accompanying press release, here’s what the EPO has to say about the new services:
Continuing to improve the quality of services to its users by establishing a one-stop shop for applicants, the European Patent Office (EPO) today launched a new system for the online filing of patent applications.

The launch marks a new and important step forward to reducing the amount of paper handling by increasing electronic communication between the applicant and the EPO. It opens the way to further minimising human interaction in administrative handling of patent applications with the aim of improving the quality of data used and services offered by the EPO and to enhancing the efficiency and timeliness of the procedure.

"The launch of the new online filing system version 1.8 today constitutes a further significant move on the way to modernising the EPO's IT services as agreed with our member states," said EPO President Benoît Battistelli (presenting the new system for the first time to users yesterday in Stockholm). . "Following on to the successful launch of the mailbox, the new system supports the overall strategy of the Office to equip the European patent system with the best possible IT environment in order to reduce administrative costs for applicants. It also helps to align the European and PCT procedures under the same tool," he added.

Accessible through a browser interface, the new online filing system is web-based and does not require any installations or security updates by the user, which responds directly to a long-standing request of patent applicants. It fully supports patent applications filed both under the European Patent Convention and the Patent Cooperation Treaty, also including subsequently filed documents for both procedures. The new system includes two new online services: new online filing (CMS), which allows you to file applications in a Web-based application accessible from your browser; and web-form filing, which allows you to upload and submit Annex F-compliant PDF documents.

The modernisation of the EPO's granting process is a pillar of the Office's "IT Roadmap" adopted in 2011. The introduction of new tools at the EPO became necessary as the current systems used in the process were reaching the end of their economic shelf live and needed to be replaced by a new generation of technologies which will also help to better align the European and PCT application procedures. The aim of the roadmap is to improve the EPO's services for its users, and minimise manual intervention for the benefit of a higher patent quality through better patent data and greater timeliness of the procedure. The new online filing system will be gradually enhanced with additional services over the coming months.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Will the new software include any of the national portals, allowing you to file UK applications, for example? Or will we be forced to use the UK web portal (which, given changes to who is running the UKIPO's website, will no doubt become about as easy as filling out a tax return).

Will it be possible to choose between the UK or the EPO as the PCT receiving office?

No doubt, as will all changes initiated by the EPO, they will have thought about everything like this well in advance.

Anonymous said...

from: http://www.nlo.nl/en/news/150/EPO-s-new-case-management-system-to-be-implemented-in-2015

National patent offices in Europe will also benefit from this project, through plans to offer them the new online filing tool under the EPO's co-operation policy with its 38 member states.

Anonymous said...

No is not yet possible.

Anonymous said...

Just tried to access CMS and got this after logging in: CMS filing server failure.

Error 404
You have received this error because of a possible problem with the CMS server.
Please try again later or contact EPO User Support for further assistance.
Phone number +31 70 3404500
E-mail address support@epo.org
Click here to access EPO Online Services.

Angela Richards M&C said...


No - It doesn't allow you to file UK applications and the EPO is the only option it gives you as the PCT receiving office.

It will be a real headache if we are not able to file UK applications via CMS when they pull the plug on EPOline.

athurgood said...

CMS still doesn't work with Mac OSX apparently, my card reader doesn't show up.

Anonymous said...

I have been on the CMS pilot for several months now. My biggest concern with CMS is that it is not possible to file EP or PCT applications with a national office as the filing office. This is a major issue for applicants in any Contracting State having national security provisions, such as the UK, which prevents them from filing a first application to an invention in any other office without having filed in the national office first or having obtained a foreign filing licence.

I have raised this issue with the EPO twice now, and their response was that they are happy to work with national offices on this, but it was up to them to implement it. They did not seem to fully appreciate that a lack of national office participation could really stifle uptake of the new service for any applicant whose technology could fall under such provisions (and I doubt a firm would want to put their clients at risk of this either), especially as it is not always obvious when an invention is going to raise a security flag. It seems to me that the EPO should be giving more assistance to the national offices to ensure it replaces all functionality (including filing EP/PCT applications via national offices, and for filing national applications) before the current online filing program is phased out.

I am therefore alarmed of the rumours that the current online filing program will be phased out over the next couple of years. If the national offices have not adapted their systems to CMS by then, I expect many applicants will be forced to go back to paper/fax filing.

Anonymous said...

@athurgood It works on a Virtual Machine on Mac OSX. Parallels and Windows 7.

@Annonymous 2 October 15:12:00

Most Brits will have filed a UK priority application and will rarely file EP or PCT as a first filing. Its hardly a major issue.

I'm sure all will be possible within two years.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 2 October 2014 16:46 Not much point in promoting a more open, web based, HTML5/AJAX/fabnewframework UI if you still have to run a virtualized version of Windows OS just to get the PKI dynamic library support. Kind of defeats the object methinks.

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