1. In view of the problems caused by the Oklahoma Tornado, which struck Moore, Oklahoma and adjacent areas in the US on 20 May 2013, attention is drawn to the general legal remedies provided for under the European Patent Convention and under the PCT in case of non-observance of time limits, and in particular, to the possible application of Rule 134(5) EPC and Rule 82quater.1 PCT.
2. Rule 134(5) EPC offers a safeguard in the case of non-observance of a time limit as a result of a dislocation in the delivery or transmission of mail caused by an exceptional occurrence such as a natural disaster, affecting the locality where an applicant, a party or their representative resides or has his place of business.
3. Pursuant to this provision, any document received late will be deemed to have been received in due time if the person concerned offers evidence that:
(1) On any of the ten days preceding the day of expiry of a period, delivery or transmission of mail was dislocated due to this natural disaster; and
(2) that the mailing or transmission of the document was effected within five days after mail delivery or transmission resumed.
4. As for time limits and conditions applicable under the PCT, applicants are referred to Rule 82quater.1 PCT. Thus, where the interested party offers satisfactory evidence that a time limit under the PCT was not met due to natural calamity or other like reason in the locality where the interested party resides, has his place of business or is staying, and that the relevant action was taken as soon as reasonably possible (and no later than six months after the expiration of the time limit applicable in the given case), such delay in meeting the time limit shall be excused. This applies to international applications pending in the international phase. However, this provision does not apply to the priority period. Nevertheless, if an international application is received at the EPO after expiry of the priority period, restoration of the right of priority pursuant to Rule 26bis.3 PCT may be available.