London, 03 April 2020 | The outbreak of COVID-19 has already vastly affected businesses across the globe and will continue to do so for some time yet.
Intellectual property may not be at the forefront of people’s minds in these current uncertain times, and Intellectual Property Offices around the World have acknowledged that businesses are less likely to be in a position to meet deadlines. As a result, such deadlines have been either extended or relaxed across all areas of intellectual property. For example:
The UKIPO has extended the period to respond to an examination in a trade mark application to four months instead of two. It has not applied the same automatic extension to design applications, although it has claimed that “extensions are available” if requested.
Requests for other deadline extensions will be considered in both trade mark and design applications “where national and international legislation allows” and “as favourably as possible on a case-by-case”.
The UKIPO are facing delays to publication of a trade mark application where it is necessary to notify a third party. There are also delays receiving original Certificates of Registration but if it is urgent, an email copy can be supplied.
All deadlines falling between 9 March and 30 April 2020 before the EUIPO have automatically been extended until 1 May 2020. As this is not a working day in Spain, deadlines effectively roll to 4 May 2020. This includes all statutory deadlines or deadlines set by the EUIPO, such as priority claims, request for renewal, conversion and opposition deadlines. This does not apply to deadlines to further appeal Board of Appeal decisions to the General Court, which remain in place.
Deadlines remain as originally set but there are steps that can be taken if deadlines are missed. Users of the Madrid System who have failed to meet a time limit for a communication addressed to WIPO may be excused if they send that communication within five days after regaining access to mail or delivery services or to electronic communication. In any event, WIPO must receive the communication no later than six months from the date on which the time limit concerned expired. Evidence for the reason why the deadline was missed may be required.
Other national offices in the EU have varying procedures. In relation to courts, in England, along with both the General Court and Court of Justice of the EU, the deadlines currently remain as set.
WIPO has also announced that it is not able to receive postal communications until further notice.
For further information on any of the items mentioned in this article, please contact any member of the IP team.