As of 1 January 2014, the European Patent Office will no longer accept hand-written amendments in documents replacing parts of the European patent application. The notice concerning this change is here.
In the past, when an application is amended during prosecution or opposition, it was possible to commit changes to the text in a hand-written form.
This will no longer be possible. Instead, any changes to the text must be typed or printed. This will help the EPO to automate the conversion of European patent applications into a form in which they can be electronically processed. This means documents such as the Druckexemplar can be more easily provided in electronic rather than printed form. This will save time, trees and probably the planet as well.
It seems that hand-written amendments will still be allowed for graphic symbols and characters and chemical or mathematical formulae.
This applies to amendments made during Oral Proceedings, and so the EPO have recommended that professional representatives arm themselves with a laptop or a similar device. A typewriter perhaps, to guarantee “a medium free of computer viruses or malware” and also to ensure you have a blunt heavy object to hand if it doesn’t seem to be going your way.
Note also a FAQ from the EPO which includes a clarification that the identification of amendments (and their basis) can still conveniently be done in a handwritten manner. However, a clean copy will be required that is free from handwritten amendments.
Kaya Elkiner 12 December 2013 / edited 27 February 2014