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Home> Announcements> News and Updates/Disaster Assistance> Disaster Assistance> Relief Measures based on “Reasons beyond one’s Control” and “Legitimate Reasons” when prescribed procedures are affected by COVID-19

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Relief Measures based on “Reasons beyond one’s Control” and “Legitimate Reasons” when prescribed procedures are affected by COVID-19

Updated December 28, 2021
April 30, 2020
Japan Patent Office

In regard to relief measures for applicants who are unable to deal with specified procedures due to “reasons beyond one’s control” or “legitimate reasons,” the Japan Patent Office (JPO) usually applies such measures based on its Formality Examination Manual, and “Guidelines Concerning Remedial Provisions Applicable after the Expiration of a Time Limit”(PDF:378KB). Nonetheless, when it comes to relief measures for procedures negatively affected by the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), the JPO takes the following flexible approaches until further notice (e.g. applicants are not required to submit document evidence supporting their reasons).

1. Procedures to which Relief Measures can be granted

(1) Relief measures based on “reasons beyond one’s control”

Under the laws and regulations of Japan, when applicants are unable to implement prescribed procedures due to “reasons beyond their control” within the time limits, they need to carry out procedures to apply for relief measures specified by the JPO. More specifically, please refer to “1. Procedures to which relief measures can be applied by carrying out procedures within 14 days” of II. Statutory Time Limits in ”Handling of Procedures Affected by COVID-19”.

(2) Relief Measures for “Legitimate Reasons”

Under the laws and regulations of Japan, when applicants are unable to implement prescribed procedures due to “legitimate reasons” within the time limits, they need to carry out procedures specified by the JPO to apply for relief measures. More specifically, please refer to “2. Procedures to which relief measures can be applied when conducting prescribed procedures within two months” and “3. Priority claim” of II. Statutory Time Limits in ”Handling of Procedures Affected by COVID-19”.

2. Ways to Apply for Relief Measures

(1) Relief measures for “reasons beyond one’s control”

Applicants or their representatives are required to submit documents by: (1) adding an “Others” column in documents to be submitted and describe on the documents reasons why they have not been able to implement procedures within the time limits; or (2) describing the above reasons in column “Details of statement” in written statements.

(2) Relief measures for legitimate reasons

Please submit documents for procedures that applicants were unable to implement within the prescribed periods and statements of the grounds for restoration, which describe reasons for the failure to meet the time limit.Also, when applicants request exemption from paying additional patent (registration) fees based on reasons beyond their control, please file such requests by submitting written payment form in which a column “others” is added to describe the request for exemption from paying additional patent (registration) fees based on reasons beyond their control and the specific details of the reasons (or, together with submitting the payment form (*1), please submit documents (written statements) describing that the reasons for the delay was beyond their control).

(*1) Please note that if applicants (representatives of applicants) submit documents stating the reasons beyond their control after submitting the payment form, the JPO cannot recognize the reasons (under Article 69 (4) of the Regulations under the Patent Act, Article 21 (3) of the Regulations under the Utility Model Act, Article 18 (3) of the Regulations under the Design Act, and Article 18 (8) of the Regulations under the Trademark Act).

3. Examples of Reasons of Not Complying with Time limits

The following are case examples in which applicants or their representatives were not able to implement procedures:

  • Applicants or their representatives have been infected with the COVID-19;
  • The offices of applicants or their representatives have been closed due to those who were infected with the COVID-19;
  • Since local governments in regions where applicants or their representatives reside issued an order of or request for restrictions on movement due to the COVID-19, access to the office is severely restricted;
  • The offices of applicants or their representatives have fallen into difficult situations to continue to operate due to negative impacts caused by the COVID-19;

Example for description of reasons (Please describe the circumstances with dates that prevented applicants from carrying out prescribed procedures within the time limits.)

“Due to the negative effects of the COVID-19, Company XX for which applicants work/Office YY where representatives of applicants work had been closed (and forced to work at home) from ○○, 2020, and the applicants/the representatives were not able to implement their prescribed procedures. Nonetheless, since it has become possible to implement the procedures from ○○, 2020, please recognize □□ as an effective procedure.”

Description Example of Request for Exemption from Paying Additional Registration Fees

“[Others] Due to the negative effects of COVID-19, Company XX for which applicants work/Office YY where representatives of applicants work had been closed (remote work) from ○○ to ○○ in 2021, and the applicants/the representatives are (were) not able to implement the prescribed procedures for paying patent (registration) fees within the time limits. Nonetheless, since it has become possible to implement the procedures from ○○, 2021 within/after the late-payment periods (*2), the applicants/the representatives file a request for exemption from paying the additional registration fees.”

  • *1 Please note that depending on the procedures, there is a time limit that the critical date is the date on which the procedures become available. For further details about time limits, please refer to “II. Statutory Time Limits” in Handling of Procedures Affected by COVID-19.
    Also, the dates on which the procedures become available are the dates on which the applicants/the representatives become ready to submit documents to the JPO to implement the procedures.
  • *2 Only in case the reasons for the delay are legitimate reasons.

4. Documentary Evidence

In general, when applying relief measures to applicants or their representatives who were unable to implement prescribed procedures within the time limits due to reasons beyond their control or legitimate reasons, the JPO asks them to submit documentary evidence supporting the fact written in their documents. However, only in case they have been negatively affected by the COVID-19, the JPO will not require them to submit any documentary evidence until further notice.

5. Granting of Relief Measures

Except cases in which it is difficult for the JPO to consider that the time limits for procedures have been affected by the spread of the COVID-19, the JPO will, until further notice, grant relief measures for a certain period of time to cases in which applicants or their representatives describe the fact that their procedures have been negatively affected by the COVID-19.

[Last updated 28 December 2021]

Contact details for procedures based on reasons beyond one’s control:

Official Services Management Section, General Coordination Divisions

E-mail:pa0220@jpo.go.jp

Contact details for procedures based on legitimate reasons:

Restoration Section, Customer Relations Policy Division, Trademark and Customer Relations Department

E-mail:pa0c50@jpo.go.jp