Interruption of time limits 

The time limits in force at the date of stay other than time limits for payment of renewal fees are interrupted by such stay. The time which has not yet elapsed begins to run as from the date on which proceedings are resumed. However, the time still to run after the resumption of the proceedings must not be less than two months. As far as renewal fees are concerned, they continue to fall due during the period of stay. Also, in accordance with Rule 14(4), the period for the payment of the renewal fee with an additional fee provided for in Rule 51(2) is not interrupted.

Example: The European Patent Bulletin mentions the publication of the European search report on 15 March 2017. Proceedings are stayed on Friday, 5 May 2017 and resumed on Friday, 18 August 2017. At the resumption of proceedings, the six-month period from the date of the mention of the publication of the search report for payment of the examination fee (Rule 70(1)) does not begin to run again in its entirety but only for the days and months not yet elapsed. This time must not be less than two months (Rule 14(4)).

The six-month period starts on the day following the publication of the search report, in accordance with Rule 131(2), i.e. on 16 March 2017, and ends on 15 September 2017. The period that is already running when proceedings are stayed on 5 May 2017 ends on 4 May 2017.

The period that has elapsed between 15 March 2017 and 4 May 2017 is one month and 19 days. The remaining period to run after the resumption is more than two months.

Calculation of the remaining non-elapsed period:

On the day of suspension, 5 May 2017, the first month of the running period has passed and so have 19 days of the second month. Thus, on that day, 11 days and four months remain (from 5 May 2017 to 15 May 2017 inclusive and from 15 May 2017 to 15 September 2017 inclusive). This non-elapsed period must be added to the date of resumption in order to calculate the deadline for payment of the examination fee.

Resumption is on 18 August 2017. All time limits start running again as from and including this day (Rule 131(2) does not apply):

After adding first the remaining days and then the remaining months, it is necessary to check whether the last day falls on a day on which the EPO receives mail according to Rule 134(1): calculating 11 days from and including 18 August 2017 results in 28 August 2017. Adding four months to that gives 28 December 2017 as the end of the time limit for payment of the fee. Since the EPO was closed from Monday, 25 December 2017 to Monday, 1 January 2018, the period is extended to 2 January 2018 in accordance with Rule 134(1).

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