Good news for inventors or co-inventors tangled in the catastrophic events surrounding the March 11, 2011 earthquake in Japan. The United States Patent Office considers the disaster to fall under the “extraordinary situation” clause found in “37 CFR 1.183 and 37 CFR 2.146”. This means if your correspondence regarding your patent or trademark registration was negatively effected because of circumstances pertaining to the Japan earthquake and tsunami, you may be able to appeal to the USPTO to have the appropriate action taken to rectify the matter. Whether it be re-issuance of office communication or a waiving of surcharge fees for late payments of maintenance fees, you should be able to work it out with our friends at the patent office. For detailed information on how exactly to address this issue, see the official USPTO announcement here.