The United States Patent and Trademark Office recently announced it will make special accommodations for trademark and patent owners and applicants affected by the recent earthquake in Japan and its aftermath.
Under normal circumstances, the USPTO enforces a strict set of rules and deadlines that applicants must meet in order for their patent applications to be recognized. The office announced that any patent application for which one or more inventor is situated in affected parts of Japan will be given new deadlines, should they so wish.
In addition, the USPTO announced that it will waive surcharges for affected patentees who were unable to pay maintenance fees on time due to events in Japan.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan who continue to suffer from the effects of the earthquake and resulting tsunami, said David Kappos, director of the USPTO. "The USPTO is offering assistance in the form of flexibility on deadlines to the full extent allowable under our laws to Japanese applicants," he said.
The earthquake that hit Japan on March 11 has cost more than 18,000 lives and caused extensive destruction. According to the World Bank, it may cost Japan as much as $234 billion to repair the damage.