What do you do when online filing breaks down?
Results of online survey.

J. Gray, (GB) Chair OCCJ. Gray, (GB) Chair Online Communications Committee

An online survey was conducted on behalf of epi Online Communications Committee (OCC), to gather experiences and wishes of epi members, in situations when online filing does not work as expected. We received a fantastic response from over a thousand attorneys, as well as paralegal/patent administrators. The results are presented in graph form, which will be used by OCC as input for its presentations to EPO on current and future system design. The survey remains open for new responses.

The EPO offers a variety of online filing services - e-OLF, CMS, Web Form Filing. In future these will be replaced by a new system. Now and in the future: what happens if the system is not working when you need it?

The Online Communications Committee of epi collaborates with the EPO to ensure systems are reliable, and easy to use with legal certainty at each step. Nearly a thousand epi members, and around 80 support staff kindly participated in a short survey to collect preferences and experiences. The main results are presented below, in graphical form.

The results speak for themselves. Over 97% of respondents prefer to use the online services in their submissions to the EPO (Q3). However, two thirds have experienced situations in which the preferred channel of online filing was unavailable when needed (Q4). A variety of reasons explain this, including a more or less equal mix of malfunctions at the EPO side and/or malfunctions at the user side, and occasionally force majeure (Q5). Over one fifth of users have experienced failure due to lack of authorisation credentials of the right form (smartcard/password issues).

For more than half of users, facsimile is currently the first choice of contingency channel when the usual method fails (Q6). (Even those preferring a different channel may find facsimile is the only option, when systems are down.) A minority of respondents are able to use hand filing, while nearly 5% admit they do not know what they would do in that situation.

The EPO does not currently offer an online solution with the simplicity and flexibility of facsimile as a backup. However, when thinking of future developments, although over 1/3 would consider facsimile still an appropriate backup, more than half of the respondents would like to see a web-based filing platform and/or an email-based mechanism, or something else (Q7).

Download Results of online survey (PDF, 150KB)

Major developments in EPO online systems are foreseen, as explained in the recently issued Strategic Plan. Your answers to the survey will be very valuable to your Online Communications Committee and other epi representatives, ensuring that the EPO understands and meets the needs of the user community. Already the International Bureau of WIPO has announced the imminent closure of facts channels, and is trialling a web-based contingency filing service. Please see the news item elsewhere in this edition, and experiment with the contingency filing service, before you need to rely on it.

If you have not already participated, you’re welcome to add your response to the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.de/r/OCC_survey Responses from the responsible support staff, as well as attorneys, are welcome.

Please do not include confidential information in your responses. If you have any individual experience that you would like to share with the Online Communications Committee, please e-mail occ@patentepi.org.