Notice on delays in meeting PCT time limits due to a general unavailability of electronic communication services

Effective July 1, 2016, amended Rule 82quater.1(a) of the PCT Regulations will provide for an Office to excuse delays in meeting time limits in certain situations of force majeure to include a general unavailability of electronic communication services. This amendment will help mitigate potential damage that may be caused to the rights of the applicant or third parties if problems with electronic communication services prevent an action from being taken within a certain period.

The amendment of Rule 82quater shall apply to any international application whose international filing date is on or after July 1, 2016 and shall also apply to international applications whose international filing date is before July 1, 2016, where the event referred to in Rule 82quater.1(a), as amended, occurs on or after July 1, 2016.

The Assembly adopted the following Understanding concerning the provisions regarding the excuse of a delay in meeting a time limit due to a general unavailability of electronic communication services in accordance with the amended Rule 82quater:

“In adopting the amendments to Rule 82quater.1, the Assembly noted that the receiving Office, the International Searching Authority, the Authority specified for supplementary search, the International Preliminary Examining Authority or the International Bureau should, in considering a request under Rule 82quater.1 to excuse a delay in meeting a time limit that has not been met due to a general unavailability of electronic communication services, interpret general unavailability of electronic communications to apply to outages that affect widespread geographical areas or many individuals, as distinct from localized problems associated with a particular building or single user.”

When considering a request under Rule 82quater.1 to excuse a delay in meeting a time limit that has not been met due to a general unavailability of electronic communication services CIPO will be guided by this Understanding.

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