1. In view of the current tragic events in Japan, attention is drawn to the general legal remedies provided under the European Patent Convention in the case of the non-observance of time limits and, more specifically, to Rule 134(5) EPC.
2. Rule 134(5) EPC offers a safeguard in the case of non-observance of a time limit due to an exceptional occurrence such as a natural disaster or other like reasons affecting the locality where the party or his representative resides or has his place of business. This provision may therefore be invoked by any applicants, parties to proceedings or their representatives affected by the natural and technical disasters in Japan.
3. Pursuant to Rule 134(5) EPC, any document received late will be deemed to have been received in due time if the person concerned offers evidence that on any of the ten days preceding the day of expiration of a time limit the mail service was dislocated on account of the effects of this natural or technical disaster, and that the mailing was effected within five days after the mail service was resumed.
4. As far as time limits under the PCT are concerned, applicants are referred to Rule 82 PCT. This provision, however, does not apply to the priority period. If an international application was received at the EPO after expiry of the priority period, restoration of the right of priority may be available (Rule 26bis.3 PCT).