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03.27.2020 Legal News

Intellectual Property Offices Offer Relief Around the World Amid COVID-19 Crisis

The last thing businesses and owners want to think about during a global health crisis is a looming intellectual property deadline.

Fortunately, many Intellectual Property Offices around the world have activated their business continuity protocol and have taken essential measures to support customers affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

For your convenience, we have provided a list of select Intellectual Property Offices worldwide with key information for customers, including waivers, fees, status of extensions and more. It is important to check the country where you are doing business to ensure that no deadlines are missed, and that your intellectual property is fully protected.

USPTO (U.S. Patent & Trademark Office)

  • Considers the effects of coronavirus to be an “extraordinary situation” for all patent and trademark parties.
  • Will waive petition fees in certain situations for customers impacted by COVID-19.
  • Will not grant waivers or extensions of dates or requirements set by trademark laws.

IPTO (Italian Patent and Trademark Office)

  • Italian Law decree suspends all terms provided by the Italian Industrial Property Code and by the IPTO between February 23 and April 15, 2020.
  • Payments, renewals and validity of intellectual property rights expiring between February 23 and April 15 must be finalized by June 15, 2020.

EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office)

  • Extended all time limits and deadlines for IP expiring and any proceedings between March 9 and April 30, 2020 until May 1, 2020 (effectively May 4, since May 1 is a public holiday in Spain, followed by a weekend).
  • Extension is automatic – no requirement to file a request with the Office.

EPO (European Patent Office)

  • Postpones oral proceedings before Examining and Opposition Divisions until further notice.
  • Many time limits expiring on or after March 15 are extended until April 17, 2020. If the disruption should continue after April 17, 2020, the EPO may consider further extensions and remedies.

WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization)

  • Continuing operations under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks, the Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs, the Lisbon System for the International Registration of Geographical Indications, as well as administering other intellectual property (IP) and related systems.

UKIPO (UK Intellectual Property Office)

  • Will extend time periods where national and international legislation allows and with discretionary powers available to them.
  • Willing to consider requests for extensions of time as favorably as possible on a case-by-case basis.
  • Where a failure to meet a time limit has resulted in a loss of rights, those rights may be reinstated or restored in certain circumstances.

DPMA (Germany)

  • Time limits on pending cases set by the German Patent and Trade Mark Office are extended until May 4, 2020.
  • The time limits to be set by the German Patent and Trade Mark Office will be as generous as the situation requires.
  • Not authorized to extend time limits provided for by law, but there is an option of re-establishment of rights on a case-by-case basis.

BOIP (Benelux)

  • Current deadlines are postponed until the end of the imposed public restrictions in the Benelux countries.
  • BOIP will not withdraw any requests or procedures because a given deadline has not been met; also applies to opposition proceedings not submitted on time or payments not received on time.
  • After this period has ended, an additional period of one month will be granted for all requests and proceedings for which the time limits have expired, or which are less than one month at that time.

ÖPA (Austria)

  • All existing official time limits in proceedings before the Patent Office will be extended two months without the need to apply for a further extension separately.
  • For deadlines in bilateral proceedings, request for extension of the deadline must be submitted.
  • Other deadlines resulting directly from the law (e.g. for filing appeals or for paying annuity and renewal fees) cannot be extended.

IPOI (Ireland)

  • IPOI is now closed until Sunday, March 29, 2020 inclusive; these days are to be considered “excluded days.”
  • Any official office deadlines that fall within the closed dates shall fall “on the first day, which is not an excluded day”; e.g. Monday, March 30, 2020.

KIPO (Korean Intellectual Property Office)

  • Generally operating as usual but limiting in-person interviews with prosecution examiners or trial examiners.
  • Procedures for extensions of trial-related deadlines and remedies for non-observance of time limits due to COVID-19.
  • Deadline extension for applicants who have failed to comply with the statutory time limits for submitting documents or paying fees to KIPO, for any reasons relating to the coronavirus.

CIPO (Canadian Intellectual Property Office)

  • Any deadlines under Trademarks Act, Trademarks Regulations or proceeding before the TMOB that fell between March 16 and March 31, 2020 now fall on April 1, 2020.
  • For deadlines after April 1, 2020, the Registrar will consider the disruption caused by COVID-19 a sufficient circumstance to obtain an extension of time under sections 47(1) and 47(2) of the Canadian Trademark Act upon request.

IPTO (India)

  • Extended lockdown until April 15, 2020.
  • No filings will be possible at the IPTO during this period or until lockdown is lifted. All deadlines will be automatically extended or extendable upon petition.

IMPI (Mexico)

  • All proceedings and deadlines occurring between March 24 and April 19, 2020 have been suspended.

Please note that this alert addresses a select number of offices globally, with others providing for similar extensions. However, many offices continue to transact business electronically, and may not have the authority to extend deadlines or may only be able to consider requests based on specific disruption caused by COVID-19.

If you have questions about these issues, please contact Amy Pruett or any member of the Intellectual Property team.

Please note: This alert contains general, condensed summaries of actual legal matters, statutes and opinions for information purposes. It is not meant to be and should not be construed as legal advice. Readers with particular needs on specific issues should retain the services of competent counsel.

Please click here for additional legal updates from Williams Mullen regarding COVID-19.