Posted by Stephen M. Nipper at February 17, 2006 11:06 AM
Yesterday I received a phone call from a client who had just received a registered letter from the European Patent Office entitled "Noting of loss of rights pursuant to Rule 69(1) EPC." The letter went on to state that his "European patent application...is deemed to be withdrawn" for failing to pay the appropriate fees. He called me worried that I had somehow screwed up his application (the ONLY country he filed his PCT application in was Japan).
After not finding the answer using my Google-fu, I had my secretary call the EPO this morning. The answer she received on the phone: "this is a standard procedure of the European Patent Office. It is just to let the applicant know that they missed the deadline to file in Europe."
This whole thing annoyed me for a number of reasons: (1) it was sent by registered mail not to me but to my client; (2) it is misleading in that the client never had a European patent application; (3) I had to spend time which I didn't feel was billable to the client explaining to the client that the European Patent Office just does things like that; and (4) I'm not sure the purpose of the letter, other than reminding applicants that if they wanted to they could pay extension fees to still file (fishing????).
Is there a reason for any of this I don't understand? Please clue me in.