Act now to keep access to EPO systems

Act now to keep access to EPO systems

As CIPA members will be aware, the EPO is phasing out smart card access and closing other familiar services during 2024. These closures begin to take effect from 1 January 2024. Transition to the new systems requires planning and training by users.

We highlight the following for action:

  • Firms and users need to switch to the new authentication methods now, as smart cards will no longer be issued from 1 January 2024.
  • Firms and users should familiarise themselves with the new contingency upload service as fax filing and web form filing will be closed later in 2024.

Alternatives to smart cards

No new smart cards will be issued after the end of 2023. The new MyEPO platform and OLF2.0 are already using the new two-factor authentication (‘2FA’) platform. The ‘legacy’ online filing system eOLF has been updated to use the new 2FA, at least for EPO procedures. Users can even use their smart card in parallel while they get used to the new authentication system for the time being.

To avoid being locked out users should take the following actions now:

  • Smart card users should register with the new 2FA system. (Where are your smart cards & PINs? When do they expire?)
  • Firms/departments need policies as to which modes of 2FA are acceptable. Who can use (i) company devices and (ii) private devices. Setting up more than one second factor is a good precaution.
  • Do you use eOLF to file at EPO? Update to version 5.15 and try out the new way to sign and send submissions.
  • Do you use eOLF to file at a national office? Your national office will need to update their eOLF setup, before 2FA can be used for national procedures. As far as we know, no national office has done this yet.
  • Do you use EPO smart cards to access other national office systems? Is your national office ready with an alternative authentication method? It seems that several offices are not ready. The EPO announced that replacement smart cards may exceptionally be issued to renew existing users of such systems, but no new users will be accommodated.

More information on 2FA is at https://www.epo.org/en/applying/myepo-services/get-access. More information on phasing out smart cards is at https://www.epo.org/en/service-support/faq/myepo-services/phasing-out-use-smart-cards-2024  and in the OJEPO article, November 2023 edition.

CUS (learn it before you need to use it)

Once 2FA has settled in, changes don’t stop there. Individual users and firms/departments should familiarise themselves with the new contingency upload service (‘CUS’) in good time before incoming fax lines are abolished (scheduled mid-2024). CUS provides an alternative to fax and web form filing, when the other systems are down. The service is excellent in its implementation even though sadly it has been conceived for a very limited set of circumstances, and legal certainty is undermined. epi will press for it to cover more situations.

Action and information:

Questions?

EPO Customer Support is your first contact for help with any of the above systems. https://www.epo.org/en/service-support/contact-us.

In case of difficulty, you can also contact the OCC Chair at [email protected].

John Gray (Fellow) is Chair of the epi’s Online Communications Committee and a member of CIPA’s Patent Committee.

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