Sunday 26 October 2014

The new approach to correspondence with the EPO earns 5 stars

Forgive me if you are already up and away with the delights of the new case management system  (CMS) from the EPO but if not here he is a brief review from a tentative user.

In the past to file electronically with the EPO you needed their stand alone on line filing application. Now this was a brilliant piece of software which I have been using since last century. In the beginning it put paid to those days of sending paper in triplicate by post or worse still using a fax machine. It was instant and incredibly over the years has been allowing us to file more and more of our day to day correspondence with not just the EPO but also our national offices and WIPO. For solo practitioners it was the most wonderful gift and its server version meant that it provided a solution for even the largest practices. In its last hurrah it has just opened up the possibility of filing a demand for examination of a PCT application (which is not yet possible on CMS). Nevertheless the constant updates were a chore and it wasn't always easy to make corporate IT departments understand what you needed.

For some time the UK IPO has adopted web filing which allows us all, whether sole inventors, corporate departments or agents of whatever size to file new applications, other forms and responses using a secure web interface. Now the EPO has decided to follow suit.

For those of us with smart cards already the Case Management System seems the best option. However there is also a web filing option (WFF) that provides for instant registration and usability. Here is the guide for that ( a modest 29 pages).

The more sophisticated CMS option has a guide too but it is 207 pages so get comfortable. First you need to tell the EPO you want to use CMS. There is a web page for doing that. Once the support email has come through you can slot your card in its reader and attempt to go to the start page by clicking on the button on this web page (see picture to the right)
. At first it kept giving me a 404 error but clicking on the EPO logo in the top left (I'm not sure what is under the logo but its worth a try for any 404 errors you get ) was the clue for getting past that one. We are now up to version 1.9 and for the non-solo readership, the release notes suggest it is now possible for one registered user to register others in their organisation.

Having got in, it is fairly intuitive to get on and fill in forms. Its a nice thing that addresses and names you set up in Demo are available when you come to do real work so you can experiment with real data. Don't throw away the on line app just yet, but this is a simpler option for everything it does. You set up your default language in the Preferences option and away you go. I was slightly disconcerted not to see English is the amazing list of filing languages but "Same as Procedural Language" works just fine.

Your PDF files have to be well behaved and as with the app you and the document need to know the number of pages there are and if you have not accounted for them all it will tell you that overlaps are not allowed.

I have not managed to make the little eyeball viewer work happily yet. Maybe it wants my PC to have a tiff viewer (it doesn't) but then I was using Firefox and I think you are probably better off in Internet Explorer.

Despite that, I have managed one live filing that has moved along so I am pretty chuffed and you can probably do the same without having to read the 207 pages but its nice to know that it and the efficient are there to help.

Do share your experiences.

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