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Qualified Electronic Signatures now accepted at the EPO

Ending the year on a positive note, the European Patent Office (EPO) has, in the November 2021 issue of the Official Journal, issued a Notice confirming that it has changed its stance with regards to electronic signatures in respect of evidence filed in support of requests for the registration of a transfer of rights and for registration of a licence or other rights.

Up to publication of this Notice, the EPO only accepted handwritten signatures filed in support of such requests, and it issued a deficiency notice if such requests were received with electronic signatures.

The EPO will now accept “qualified electronic signatures” in addition to handwritten signatures, and this practice will apply to requests that are pending at the time of publication of this Notice, and to requests filed going forward.

The Notice defines a “qualified signature” as an electronic signature that:

  1. is uniquely linked to and capable of identifying the person signing;
  2. is created by means that the person signing can use with a high level of confidence and over which they have sole control;
  3. is associated with the electronic document to be authenticated in such a way that any subsequent change in the data is detectable;
  4. is created by a qualified electronic signature device; and
  5. is based on a qualified certificate.

It will be up to the requester to ensure that the above requirements are met.

TLIP has lobbied and chased the EPO to make this change over the past year in particular and, although it has taken longer than anticipated, we very much welcome this move by the EPO.

If you have any general questions on any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact us at mail@tlip.co.uk.