EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE
Information from the EPO
Notice from the European Patent Office dated 2 October 2019 concerning termination of the restrictions on cross-border payments originating in Greece
1. The Notice of the President dated 3 July 2015 (OJ EPO 2015, A61) informs about the general legal remedies provided for under the EPC in case of non-observance of time limits for payments and, in particular, about the possible application of Rule 134(5) EPC.
2. Rule 134(5) EPC applies by analogy to cases where the failure to observe time limits for making payments is the result of an exceptional occurrence or other like reasons. It follows that parties or representatives residing or having their place of business in Greece will be deemed to have paid any outstanding fees in due time if the party or representative concerned:
(a) makes a written declaration to the EPO that on any of the ten days preceding the day of expiry of a period, it was not possible to effect payment due to the ban on cross-border payments originating in Greece, and
(b) offers evidence that payment was ordered at the latest five days after the end of the dislocation.
3. The EPO has been informed of the entry into force on 1 September 2019 of Law no. 4624/20191 which terminates the restrictions on capital transfers originating in Greece.
4. In view of the problems caused by the closure of banks in Greece and the long duration of the ban on cross-border payments, the EPO will, whenever Rule 134(5) EPC is invoked, deem the 15 October 2019 as the date on which the dislocation caused by the ban of cross-border payments ended.
5. In addition to the remedy under Rule 134(5) EPC in case of failing to observe time-limits for making payments other legal remedies provided for under the EPC, as for instance further processing, may be applicable.
6. However, attention is drawn to the fact that Rule 134(5) EPC may be the only legal remedy available if, because of the ban on cross-border payments, the applicant failed to pay a renewal fee with additional fee within six months of the due date. In relation to the payment of renewal fees further processing is ruled out in respect of the time-limit referred to in Rule 51(2) EPC (Rule 135(2) EPC). Furthermore, re-establishment of rights may also not be available since the one-year period under Rule 136(1) EPC may have expired. Applicants concerned are therefore strongly recommended to order the payment of the renewal fees with additional fee under Rule 51(2) EPC at the latest five days after the end of the dislocation and to offer evidence under point 2.
1 See Government Gazette of Greece, issue Aꞌ 137 of 29 August 2019.