1. In view of the problems caused by the closure of banks in Greece and the ban on cross-border payments [ 1 ], attention is drawn to the general legal remedies provided for under the European Patent Convention and under the Patent Cooperation Treaty in case of non-observance of time limits for making payments 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 affecting the locality where an applicant, a party or their representative resides or has his place of business. This provision applies by analogy to cases where the failure to observe time limits for making payments is the result of exceptional circumstances beyond the applicant's control.
3. Pursuant to Rule 134(5) EPC, any payment 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, it was not possible to effect cross-border payments due to this exceptional occurrence, and that
(2) payment was ordered within five days after banks resumed business, including the processing of cross-border payment orders.
4. As for time limits and conditions applicable under the PCT, applicants are referred to new 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 expiry of the time limit in question), the delay in meeting the time limit is excused. This provision applies to international applications pending in the international phase, but not to the priority period. Therefore, an applicant whose residence or place of business is in Greece should endeavour to file his application in time to avoid having to rely on restoration of the right of priority under Rule 26bis.3 PCT.