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欧洲专利局2020.3.15日关于因COVID-19爆发而造成的影响的通知

2020年04月04日 来源:IPRdaily中文网

根据世界卫生组织2020年3月15日发布的状况报告(situation report),欧洲多国发生COVID-19爆发:其中,意大利确诊21157例,西班牙确诊5753例,法国确诊4469例,德国确诊3795例,瑞士和英国的确诊病例也已超过1000例。针对COVID-19爆发,欧洲专利局2020年3月15日发布了关于因COVID-19爆发而造成的影响的通知——“Notice from the European Patent Office dated 15 March 2020 concerning the disruptions due to the COVID-19 outbreak”(以下简称“《通知》”,点击阅读原文查看《通知》原文),其中主要涉及期限延长或延误及其救济的问题。

 

《通知》主要内容简要概括如下:

 

相关条款的适用

 

鉴于因COVID-19爆发而造成的影响所引起的问题,请注意根据《欧洲专利公约》(EPC)和《专利合作条约》(PCT)规定的一般法律补救措施。主要条款涉及EPC细则第134条第(2)款以及可能的EPC细则第134条第(5)款和PCT细则第82条之四.1等。其中,EPC细则第134条涉及期限的延长(“Extension of periods”),PCT细则第82条之四.1涉及期限延误的理由(“Excuse of Delay in Meeting Time Limits”)。

 

期限的延长

 

在《通知》中提到了一个日子值得关注,即2020年4月17日。具体而言,在《通知》发布之日或之后过期的期限将对于所有当事方及其代表延长至2020年4月17日。根据EPC第150条第(2)款,这也适用于PCT国际申请。如果COVID-19爆发所造成的影响(EPC细则第134条第(2)款所述及的“general dislocation”)超过上述日期,则可能通过发布另一份通知进一步延长上述期限。

 

期限延误及证据的提供

 

此外,值得关注的是,在《通知》中以及EPC细则和PCT细则相关条款中均述及证据的提供。因此,在因COVID-19爆发导致期限延误/错过的情形之下,建议当事方或其代表(特别是受到COVID-19爆发影响的地区的当事方及其代表,在EPO网站上关于受影响的地区随着疫情的发展进行更新)准备好相关证据,并在通知及相关条款中所述及的期限内及时提供。

 

相关条款

 

在这里提供主要的相关条款作为参考:

 

EPC细则第134条第(2)款

 

If a period expires on a day on which there is a general dislocation in the delivery or transmission of mail in a Contracting State, the period shall extend to the first day following the end of the interval of dislocation for parties which are resident in the State concerned or have appointed representatives with a place of business in that State. Where the State concerned is the State in which the European Patent Office is located, this provision shall apply to all parties and their representatives. This paragraph shall apply mutatis mutandis to the period referred to in Rule 37, paragraph 2.

 

EPC细则第134条第(5)款

 

Without prejudice to paragraphs 1 to 4, a party concerned may produce evidence that on any of the ten days preceding the day of expiry of a period the delivery or transmission of mail was dislocated due to an exceptional occurrence such as a natural disaster, war, civil disorder, a general breakdown in any of the means of electronic communication permitted by the President of the European Patent Office under Rule 2, paragraph 1, or other like reasons affecting the locality where the party or his representative resides or has his place of business. If the evidence produced satisfies the European Patent Office, a document received late shall be deemed to have been received in due time, provided that the mailing or the transmission was effected at the latest on the fifth day after the end of the dislocation.

 

PCT细则第82条之四.1

 

82quater.1   Excuse of Delay in Meeting Time Limits

 

(a)  Any interested party may offer evidence that a time limit fixed in the Regulations for performing an action before the receiving Office, the International Searching Authority, the Authority specified for supplementary search, the International Preliminary Examining Authority or the International Bureau was not met due to war, revolution, civil disorder, strike, natural calamity, a general unavailability of electronic communications services 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.

 

(b)  Any such evidence shall be addressed to the Office, Authority or the International Bureau, as the case may be, not later than six months after the expiration of the time limit applicable in the given case. If such circumstances are proven to the satisfaction of the addressee, delay in meeting the time limit shall be excused.

 

(c)  The excuse of a delay need not be taken into account by any designated or elected Office before which the applicant, at the time the decision to excuse the delay is taken, has already performed the acts referred to in Article 22 or Article 39.

 

值得关注的是,上述《通知》拟在EPO的官方杂志(Official Journal)上发布;在官方杂志上发布的内容可能与《通知》内容有所不同,需进一步关注。

 

此外,EUIPO也已于2020年3月16日决定将3月9日至4月30日到期的相关期限延长至2020年5月1日。
 

作者:韩威威 北京高文律师事务所

 

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