Friday, 21 February 2014

Mobile Devices in Oral Proceedings Before the EPO Boards of Appeal

If you ever wanted to call your psychiatrist in the course of oral proceedings before the EPO boards of appeal but did not dare to do so, you may be relieved by taking note of the following notice published Wim van der Eijk Vice-President DG3:
In oral proceedings before the Boards of Appeal under Article 116 EPC the parties and their representatives are allowed to have with them and to use portable computers such as laptops, tablets or other electronic devices provided that their use does not create any nuisance or disturbance. Where, for example, the use of an electronic device disturbs the oral proceedings, the chairperson may decide to forbid its use.

This blogger wonders whether the gender-neutral word "chairperson" will become a trend in our business. Actually, in the EPO context the word chairperson has recently appeared in the rules of procedure of the EPO select committee for implementing the tasks in connection with the patent with unitary effect. The first decision of the select committee was, however, singed by a chairman. The agreement on the UPC is not quite consistent in this point. According to Art. 12(5) of the agreement,
the Administrative Committee shall elect a chairperson from among its members years, whereas Articles 9, 10 and 18 refer to a chairman of the Administrative Committee.

It appears that we all will have to get used to this.

1 comment:

Roufousse T. Fairfly said...

You can still read the German ("der Vorsitzende") or French ("le président") versions if you prefer. ;-)

As a member of a division I would often take my own laptop in OPs with a copy of the file. As the geek saying goes, "you can't grep dead wood", and identifying the (lack of) basis for last-minute amendments, or locating certain documents, was much faster in the OCRed wrapper.

I once tried taking down minutes on the laptop, but I'm too fast a typist, and the clickety-click proved too bothersome so I reverted to paper. The trick is to immediately convert your notes into a coherent document immediately after the OP, or you'll never get down to it.

The boards have the advantage that it's almost always too late to draft and file new amendments during the OP. With the new (idiotic) rule prohibiting handwritten amendments, it would be more difficult to ask a party to put away their laptop, even when desktops are available in the attorney's room. Newer computers have a better battery autonomy, but the question might arise as to whether parties could use extension outlets.

Are the boards concerned of live tweeting by members of the public?