16 Feb 2023

EPO extends deadlines for proceedings following earthquakes in Turkey and Syria

European patents overseer applies rules that allow for extension of deadlines in exceptional circumstances

Turkey and Syria Earthquake 2023. A devastating magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck the Turkish province of Kahramanmaras

Patent applications after a natural disaster shutterstock; twintyre

In the wake of the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria on 6 February, the European Patent Office is extending time limits for parties that live in Turkey or who have representatives with their place of business in Turkey.

The EPO grants European patents covering the contracting states to the European Patent Convention (EPC) and several other states.

The notice relates to time limits expiring between 6 February and 6 April 2023, these will be extended to 7 April pursuant to Rule 134(2) of the EPC, which allows deadlines to be extended following disruption of mail services.

The EPO points out that the extension relates to deadlines for filing documents with the EPO in relation to any proceedings before the EPO (examination, opposition and appeals proceedings).

Furthermore, if a deadline has been missed because of the exceptional circumstances, Rule 134(5) of the EPC will be applied. So any document that is received late will be deemed to have been received on time if the person can offer evidence that on any of the 10 days preceding the missed deadline, the mail service was disrupted on account of the effects of the earthquakes. Also, parties would need to provide evidence that the mailing or the delivery was affected at the latest on the fifth day after the end of the disruption.

This provision applies to international patent applications pending in the international phase, but not to the period for claiming priority.

The EPO points out however, that, if an international application is received at the EPO after expiry of the priority period, restoration of the right of priority may be available.

Further information about the notice can be found here.

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