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16-03-2011 » Tragic events in Japan: remedies in case of non-observance of time limits before the EPO

In view of the current tragic events in Japan, we would like to draw your attention to specific measures that are provided for in the European Patent Convention to safeguard Applicants’ rights in the case of the non-observance of time limits due to an exceptional occurrence such as a natural disaster.

More specifically, Rule 134(5) EPC mentions that if evidence is produced that on any of the ten days preceding the day of expiry of a period the delivery or transmission of mail was dislocated on account of the effects of a natural disaster, a document received late shall nevertheless be deemed to have been received in due time, provided that the mailing was effected within five days after the mail service was resumed.

This provision may therefore be invoked if necessary by any applicants, parties to proceedings or their representatives having a place of business in Japan and affected by the natural disaster.

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