Over three-quarters of users rate VICO positively

15 November 2022

Oral proceedings in opposition by videoconference – pilot project final report

Today the EPO
has published its final report on the pilot project for oral proceedings in
opposition by videoconference (VICO). It summarises the progress made on many
aspects – technical, legal, educational and procedural; it also shows user
satisfaction has risen to its highest levels yet.

The report
finds that provision of new digital tools in Zoom has made it even more
effective for parties to argue their cases. Furthermore, the availability of
skilled interpreters has increased thanks to remote access. Many parties also welcome
the savings in time, cost and carbon emissions resulting from not having to
travel; these are conservatively estimated at over 1 000 tonnes of CO2
in 2021.

This final
report on the pilot project also includes an excerpt from those findings of the
recent user satisfaction survey which related to oral proceedings in opposition
by VICO. During the autumn this survey gathered responses from almost 400 users
chosen at random from across a large sample of recent proprietors and opponents
and their representatives. 77% of respondents found VICO to be “good” or “very
good”, up from 66% satisfaction in the survey of autumn 2021.

Overall satisfaction with oral proceedings by VICO

More parties (34%)
also perceive hearings to be shorter when conducted by VICO than those who
think they take longer (17%).

The deployment
of VICO on a large scale was a necessary response to the COVID-19 pandemic in
April 2020. In the last year the EPO has cleared its backlog of opposition
cases and brought its stock of cases back down to pre-pandemic levels, steadily
improving the timeliness of decisions. The outcomes of opposition proceedings have
also returned to their typical relative distribution, showing that VICO has had
no particular bias or impact on outcomes as a whole.

Outcomes of
opposition proceedings (January 2016 to June 2022)

Outcomes of opposition proceedings

This report will
provide the basis for deciding the future practice after the pilot project,
which is due to end on 31 December 2022. A Decision of the EPO President is
expected shortly.


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