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HomeCOVID-19 update: Measures taken by patent and trademark authorities

COVID-19 update: Measures taken by patent and trademark authorities

17 March 2020

In light of COVID-19, many patent and trademark authorities and local offices have put in place measures to ensure the continued functionality and operation of the intellectual property right sys-tems. As the majority of the activities of the patent and trademark authorities can be conducted remote-ly/online, the impact of COVID-19 is generally not expected to be significant. Nevertheless, the measures put in place (e.g. concerning deadlines and format of submissions) may impact companies seeking to protect and maintain their intellectual property rights. In this newsletter, we highlight some of the current measures put in place by the main patent and trademark authorities.

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (“EUIPO”) has informed users that it will continue to receive and process trademark and design applications as usual. At the same time, the Executive Director has issued a decision to extend all time limits expiring between 9 March 2020 and 30 April 2020 to 1 May 2020 (i.e. Monday 4 May 2020). Staff of the EUIPO will be working remotely, and the offices will be closed. Therefore, all events have also been postponed and registered participants will be contacted with information on the updates.[1]

The European Patent Office’s (“EPO”) latest update on COVID-19 measures show that staff of the EPO have been instructed to work from home. In light of the disruptions caused by COVID-19, periods expiring on or after 15 March 2020 are extended until 17 April 2020. The Supervisory Board on qualifying examinations has decided to cancel pre-examination and main examination papers. Oral proceedings before the Board of Appeal will not be held between 16 March and 27 March 2020. Concerned parties should have been contacted in this regard. As a starting point, oral proceedings before examining and opposition divisions will take place as scheduled – only proceedings involving representatives that have recently visited “high risk areas” will be postponed or held via videoconference.

In an update of 17 March 2020, the World Intellectual Property Office (“WIPO”), has declared that its Geneva headquarters are closed and that its staff are working remotely. Likewise, all events and meetings organized or co-organized by WIPO have been postponed. However, the update also informs that processing of applications filed through Global IP Services, the PCT, Madrid System and the Hague System are unaffected.[2]

Many national patent and trademark offices have also implemented special measures due to the impact of COVID-19. For example, the Italian Patent and Trademark Office has decided to stay almost all official deadlines falling within 9 March and 3 April 2020.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) is re-scheduling in-person meetings to be conducted remotely and the USPTO offices are closed to the public starting 16 March 2020. On 16 March 2020, the USPTO also declared that it would be waiving petition fees in certain situations for customers impacted by COVID-19. However, other requirements or deadlines set by statute will not be affected.[3]

In Denmark,  the employees of the Danish Patent and Trademark Office are working from home until Friday 27 March 2020, but the office has proclaimed that the office is operating as normal – meaning that due dates will not be stayed. However, delays may be expected with regard to receipt of applications and payments.

Gorrissen Federspiel is closely following the developments to keep its clients well-aware of the current situation in the IP field.


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