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Act now to keep access to EPO systems
December 04, 2023
As all members should 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 & 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 Jan 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.
More information is below.
Alternatives to smartcards – !! MAKE THE CHANGE !!
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.
Take action NOW to avoid being locked out:
- Smart card users should register NOW with the new 2FA system. (Where are your smart cards & PINs? When do they expire?)
- Firms/departments need policies NOW 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 NOW 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 IPO ready with an alternative authentication method? It seems that several offices are not ready. EPO has 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.
Contingency Upload Service (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:
- Plan and review your ‘Plan B’ for when things go wrong in your own systems or EPO systems.
- Find and bookmark the EPO outage notices https://www.epo.org/en/service-support/availability-online-services
- Find and bookmark the CUS web page https://www.epo.org/en/applying/myepo-services/file-with-us/cus
- Try it out: How will I prepare documents. Who will be able to file?
- How will I pay fees in an emergency? (Not currently provided by CUS.)
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 OCC@patentepi.org.
Chair, Online Communications Committee