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Electronic and Digital Signatures on Assignments and Declarations to be Accepted by the EPO from 1 April 2024

Mar 25, 2024

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    Michael Nielsen

    I work as a European & UK patent attorney at Berggren, helping clients to secure and protect the rights for their inventions across Europe. I enjoy taking the complicated field of European patent law and turning it into concrete, relevant advice for our clients and their businesses.


    Electronic and digital signatures have generally not been accepted on agreements or declarations for recording assignments or licences at the European Patent Office. This has led to the practice of confirmatory assignments or declarations being separately prepared and signed in wet ink for the EPO.

    A Significant Shift: EPO to Accept Electronic Signatures from April 1st

    Starting next week (1st April) the rules will change. The EPO has stated that electronic signatures, including basic text string signature (e.g. /Michael Nielsen/) will be acceptable on contracts or declarations filed as evidence for the registration of assignments or licenses.

    Where digital signatures are used (e.g. those applied using DocuSign or a similar solution) there are a few almost trivial criteria that have to be satisfied: the document including the digital signature must be filed electronically, must be legible, must not be infected with a computer virus, and must not contain other malicious software (see paragraph 6 of this Notice from the EPO).

    As a best practice, text string signatures could also be used in a document signed using DocuSign or similar, since text string signatures are separately acceptable under paragraph 4 of the Notice.

    Other signature requirements for agreements or declarations remain the same, e.g. the signature of both parties to an assignment are required.

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