How has the current COVID-19 crisis impacted on operations of patent and trade mark offices around the world? Here’s a snapshot of recent information for Australia, United States, EUIPO, UKIPO and European patent office.
Please remember that this is a guide only, provided for interest, and is no substitute for professional advice. It is imperative that you seek professional advice from your patent and/or trade mark attorney if you seek reliance on the COVID-19 crisis in support of an extension of time for meeting a critical deadline.
Where an applicant cannot carry out an action within time due to the COVID-19 outbreak, an extension of time may be available. Requests for extensions of time will need to be made in the normal way, accompanied where required by a declaration setting out how the COVID-19 outbreak interfered with responding on time. Requests for waiver or refund of the fee for the extension of time will be considered on a case by case basis. (full details)
All examiner and examining attorney interviews, Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) oral hearings, and other similar in-person meetings with parties and stakeholders scheduled to take place at USPTO offices are to be conducted remotely by video or telephone.
USPTO will consider waiving petition fees in certain situations for customers impacted by the COVID-19 (this is for fees only and is not relevant to waivers or extensions of dates or requirements set by statute). Extensions of time to file certain patent and trademark-related documents and to pay certain required fees will also be allowed. (full details)
Trade mark and design applications will continue to be received, examined and published, and the Office will continue to send communications and set deadlines. Bulletins will continue to be published as usual. A decision of the Executive Director has been published extending all time limits to 1 May 2020. In practice, this means that time limits are extended until Monday 4 May, given that Friday 1 May is a public holiday. (full details).
Time limits expiring on or after 15 March 2020 are extended until 17 April 2020. (full details) The extension of time limits also applies to periods for paying fees, including renewal fees. (full details) However, in our recent experience, different associates take different views on whether the extension of time limits extend to renewal payments. The EPO has decided to postpone until further notice all oral proceedings in examination and opposition proceedings scheduled until 17 April 2020 unless they have already been confirmed to take place by means of videoconferencing. (full details) Oral proceedings will not be held in the premises of the Boards of Appeal until 17 April 2020. (full details)
The UKIPO has declared 24 March 2020, and subsequent days until further notice, interrupted days. This means that any deadlines for patents, supplementary protection certificates, trade marks, designs, and applications for these rights, which fall on an interrupted day will be extended until the UKIPO notifies the end of the interrupted days period. To support rights holders and businesses and IP professionals planning ahead, the UKIPO will provide a minimum of 2 weeks’ notice before ending the interrupted days period. (full details)
As to the rest of the world, many offices are currently shut/suspended and will not re-open until early to mid-April (e.g. Italy, India, Brazil) at the earliest. (brief details)