The European Patent Office (EPO) has just announced a pilot project to explore the suitability of performing opposition procedure oral proceedings by video conference.
Since 1998 it has been possible for applicants to participate in oral proceedings at the EPO using video conference facilities. This alleviates the necessity for applicants or their representatives to travel to Munich, The Hague, or Berlin to attend proceedings.
This way of running oral proceedings is now being explored for opposition oral proceedings involving more than one party. A pilot project will take place in which parties to opposition cases will be given the option to hold an oral proceedings by video conference, albeit only with the agreement of all parties.
Opposition oral proceedings are open to the public and for proceedings which run via video conference the EPO will enable third parties to connect remotely to observe. This provides an interesting (and educational) opportunity to follow a proceedings. Interested members of the public who give prior notice that they wish to follow a particular proceedings will be provided by the EPO with a link, allowing them to do so.