Yes. Notwithstanding the end of the general dislocation in the Federal Republic of Germany within the meaning of Rule 134(2) EPC (please see the Notice from the European Patent Office dated 10 November 2020 concerning the disruptions due to the COVID-19 outbreak), attention is drawn to Rule 134(5) EPC. This provision 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.
Please note that when Rule 134(5) EPC is invoked, a formal request needs to be filed with the EPO, stating how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the locality where the applicant or party or their representative resides or has his place of business. For the time being and under the present circumstances the EPO will not require evidence to be submitted.
For the sake of completeness, attention is also drawn to the possibility to request further processing pursuant to Article 121 and Rule 135 EPC or re-establishment of rights pursuant to Article 122 and Rule 136 EPC. For more details, reference is made to the Guidelines for Examination, E-VIII, 2 and 3.
With regard to periods specified by the EPO, attention is furthermore drawn to the possibility of requesting an extension in accordance with Rule 132(2) EPC. Such request must be submitted in writing before expiry of the period and – in exceptional cases where the request concerns an extension of a total period exceeding six months – must give reasons that are sufficient to show convincingly that a reply in the period previously laid down will not be possible. For further details see the Guidelines for Examination, E-VIII, 1.6.
Yes. Rule 134(5) EPC also applies to periods for paying fees, including renewal fees.
Yes. Where a time limit under the PCT is 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 the relevant action is 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 based on a request under Rule 82quater.1 PCT. This provision applies to international applications pending in the international phase, but not to the priority period.
Please note that when Rule 82quater.1 PCT is invoked, a formal request needs to be filed with the EPO, stating how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the locality where the interested party resides.
Rule 82quater.1 PCT applies to all time limits fixed in the PCT Regulations for performing an action before the European Patent Office as receiving Office, International Searching Authority, Authority specified for supplementary search, International Preliminary Examining Authority. This does not include the priority period, which is fixed in the Paris Convention. However, PCT applicants may file a request for restoration of the priority right under Rule 26bis.3 PCT. Without prejudice to a request for restoration of the priority right, the period for claiming priority can only be extended under Rules 80.5 and 2.4(b) PCT if the last day of the priority year falls on a non-working day, an official holiday or a day on which the EPO is not open to the public or ordinary mail is not delivered.
Yes. Fee payments in the international phase are covered by Rule 82quater.1 PCT. Delays in meeting time limits for paying fees may thus be excused based on a request under Rule 82quater.1 PCT.
Further information with regard to safety nets available under the PCT and measures taken by the International Bureau of WIPO is available under: