View graph of relations
Interruption of proceedings (Rule 142 EPC) provides a safeguard for an applicant for or a proprietor of a European patent, who is temporarily unable to act in proceedings before the European Patent Office (EPO) as a result of medical or financial hardship. Interruption allows the party to remedy any loss of rights which occurred during this period. Interruption of proceedings is declared ex officio by the EPO and, normally, retroactively from the first day of the legal incapacity. The EPO has no power to resume proceedings until it is informed by the (new) applicant (proprietor) that the reasons for the interruption have ceased to exist. If no such information is received, this may eventually result that the application (patent) lives for 20 years without the payment of any fees from the start of the interruption. In the meantime, no person can effectively start using the invention because there is no provision for the right of continued use. In this article, Rule 142 EPC is discussed and proposals for better protecting the interest of the public are presented.