COVID-19 Patent Office Status and Updates

May 11, 2020
Patterson Thuente IP

Patterson Thuente is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation. The health and safety of our community are our top priority. The Patterson Thuente team has policies and systems in place that will enable us to continue to serve our clients. We are updating this page regularly to keep you informed with respect to ways in which patent offices around the world are responding to the situation and any assistance they are offering to their customers.

United States > USPTO

UPDATE: The USPTO has announced a COVID-19 prioritized examination pilot program for small and micro entities. The new pilot program will grant requests for prioritized examination to patent applications that qualify for small or micro entity status without payment of the typical fees associated with other prioritized examination. Under this new pilot program, the USPTO has indicated that it will endeavor to reach final disposition of applications in this program within six months if applicants respond promptly. To qualify, the claims of the application must cover a product or process that is subject to FDA approval for use in the prevention and/or treatment of COVID-19. 

The USPTO and EPO have released a joint message in support of inventors during these challenging times. The Offices indicated their desire to “stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the innovation community” and commitment to spare no effort to provide needed assistance. Assistance now being offered includes time extensions and flexibility in the form of video conferencing or postponement of hearings. The press release can be found here.

The USPTO has further extended the time to file certain patent and trademark-related documents and to pay certain required fees, which otherwise would have been due between March 27 and May 31, to June 1, 2020. This is in addition to the prior extension the USPTO had announced on March 31, 2020.

The USPTO has an FAQ page regarding the extension of deadlines under the CARES Act, found here.

On March 31, the USPTO announced extension of certain patent- and trademark-related timing deadlines under the recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. The extensions target small businesses and entrepreneurs, as many of these extensions only apply for small and micro entities. For small and micro entities, most due dates, including replies to Office Actions and maintenance fee payments, that fall between March 27 and April 30 have been extended 30 days from the initial due date. These deadline extensions and other relief measures can be found in more detail here. Trademark deadlines have similarly been extended as found here.

The USPTO has announced that the requirements for an original handwritten signature for certain correspondence with the Office of Enrollment and Discipline will be waived. These are the USPTO’s only regulatory requirements for an original handwritten signature. See the announcement here.

The USPTO remains open and has announced waiver of petition fees in certain situations for customers impacted by the coronavirus. Importantly, this notice does not grant waivers or extensions of dates or requirements set by statute. If you need assistance in processing a petition or meeting a deadline please get in touch with us and we can take appropriate action.

See uspto.gov/about-us/news-updates to read the full notice and for latest updates.

WIPO

WIPO has announced that processing of applications filed through WIPO’s global IP Services has not been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Filing priority is crucial and we can assist you with filing any international patent, trademark, or industrial design protections you may need.

Head to WIPO’s Media Center for the most current information: https://www.wipo.int/pressroom/en/

Europe > EPO

UPDATE: The EPO has announced a further extension of time limits. All deadlines expiring on or after March 15 have been extended until June 2. The EPO also stated that it may further extend this deadline should the disruption continue.

On April 16 the EPO announced a further extension of time limits. All deadlines expiring on or after March 15 have been extended until May 4.

On April 7, the EPO released a video message from EPO President António Campinos to all users. In the message the EPO reassures users of its commitment to excellence and support of innovation “no matter how tough it gets.”

Watch the video

On March 30, the EPO expanded their previously announced extension of time limits to apply to periods for paying fees, including renewal fees. This means that fees due on or after March 31, 2020 are deferred until at least April 17, 2020. As a reminder, a general fee increase remains scheduled to go into effect on April 1, 2020. More information about this fee increase can be found here.

The EPO has extended all routine official action deadlines which fall on or between March 15 and April 16, until April 17, 2020. This deadline extension is only for routine official actions and does not apply in circumstances such as the filling of a divisional. Should disruptions continue the EPO has announced it is willing to increase this extension or offer additional remedies. In the meantime, we will continue to diligently manage responses in light of these varying deadlines.

EPO updates related to COVID-19 can be found here: https://www.epo.org/news-issues/covid-19.html

United Kingdom > UKIPO

UPDATE: In light of government advice, the UKIPO has closed its office buildings, but will continue to serve customers through online means. Most UKIPO services remain unaffected.

The UKIPO reviewed on April 17 whether or not to prolong the stated period of interrupted days. The UKIPO has decided to continue the period of interruption until at least May 7 when another review will be conducted.

The UKIPO has declared March 24, and subsequent days until further notice, “interrupted days” due to the spread of COVID-19. Interrupted days delay the deadlines for patents, trademarks, designs, and supplementary protection certificates until the end of the interrupted days period. To facilitate planning, the UKIPO will provide notice a minimum of 2 weeks before ending the interrupted days period. This period has been declared to last until May 1, at the earliest. This page will be continually updated as further information, including the end of this interruption period, is released.

Additionally, the UKIPO is no longer able to process postal and paper services. Instead, applicants are asked to use the following email address or fax: paperformcontingency@ipo.gov.uk. Any paperwork currently filed will not be processed until normal services are resumed.

The UKIPO has implemented remote work capabilities for a majority of their staff, which they hope will continue to alleviate some of the strain on their services.

The UKIPO has indicated that they are willing to support affected customers by providing extended response periods where national and international legislation allow. These extensions will be considered as favorably as possible on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, where a failure to meet a time period has resulted in a loss of rights, the UKIPO may reinstate or restore those rights in certain circumstances. If you have any questions about these potential extensions or an approaching deadline please contact us.

Visit here for more information.

Canada > CIPO

UPDATE: Previous CIPO deadline extensions set to end May 1 have been extended until at least May 15.

As of April 13, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) has further extended patent, trademark, and industrial design deadlines fixed under the relevant legislation. Deadlines up to 30 April 2020 have now been extended until 1 May 2020. Deadlines for parties before the Trademarks Opposition Board (TMOB) have been extended until May 1 as well. The CIPO may decide to further extend deadlines, depending on how circumstances evolve. Additionally, the CIPO has indicated that clients should expect significant delays in all CIPO services. See here for more CIPO news.

China > CNIPA

Information from the CNIPA has been somewhat limited but the CNIPA has indicated it will prioritize and expedite patent and trademark applications relating to the prevention and control of the COVID-19 epidemic. The CNIPA has resumed normal operation following prevention and control methods being implemented on its campus.

More information at http://english.sipo.gov.cn/news/index.htm

India > IPI

The complete lockdown in India, lasting from March 25 until April 14, has been extended until May 3. The IPI announced extended closure of its offices for this period and has indicated that the relaxation of deadlines will automatically extend to May 4, 2020, when the offices reopen. The E-filing module of the IP office remains fully functional for all new filings/submission of documents in all proceedings. Accordingly, as much as possible, the IPI suggests complying with all the due dates falling within this lockdown period. The notification can be found here.

IP Australia

UPDATE: IP Australia has extended its extensions of time policies until at least May 31. These policies include streamlined forms for requesting an extension of time due to COVID-19’s impact and an extension of up to three months being available free of charge.

IP Australia has recognized that requests for extension of time may be necessary given the impact the COVID-19 outbreak has had on the ability of applicants and their representatives to process applications. These extensions of time will be processed normally on a case-by-case basis and refunds for these requests may be available.

Presently, all hearings are to be scheduled by video conference, telephone, or written submission.

IP Australia updates can be found here, including comprehensive information on Plant Breeder’s Rights.

New Zealand > IPONZ

UPDATE: IPONZ has begun notifying primary contacts on a case-by-case basis if a due date for a case has been moved. IPONZ has also indicated that any deadline will be treated as having been conditionally met and the IPONZ delay in processing will be taken into account if further action is required.

To better handle requests for extensions of time, IPONZ has released a new online form to more efficiently answer questions and concerns. Additionally, IPONZ has indicated that they will be unable to achieve their published processing timeframes. IPONZ will assess extension of time requests on a case-by-case basis.

For more information see: https://www.iponz.govt.nz/news/iponz-services-during-covid-19

India > IPI

Due to the complete lockdown in India, lasting from March 25 until April 14, IPI has announced closure of its offices for this period. According to a notice issued by IPI, all due dates falling within that period will automatically move to the day the offices reopen.

Korea > KIPO

KIPO has announced an ex-officio extension for certain deadlines that fall within March 31 to April 29. The new deadline for designated periods falling within that window will be April 30. A list of which deadlines are applicable for this extension can be found here.

KIPO announced  measures to support its applicants and users. This support includes granting a deadline extension for applicants who have not met statutory time limits for submitting documents or paying fees to KIPO, for any reasons relating to the coronavirus. Affected applicants are asked to submit a relief measure request or a statement of payment, together with an explanatory statement and evidential materials.

The official KIPO announcement can be found here.

Israel > ILPTO

The Israel Patent Office (ILPTO) has announced that deadlines for filing documents and taking other actions that originally fell between March 22 and April 1 are now extended until May 15. Additional health and safety policies will also be in place for hearings scheduled at the ILPTO. Overall, substantive examination of patent applications are in limbo, but national phase PCT entry deadlines and deadlines for paying renewal fees remain in place.

Mexico > IMPI

UPDATE: The IMPI released a Diario Oficial de la Federación publication indicating that all deadlines falling between March 24 and April 30 will expire on May 4. Further all Supreme Court, Judiciary Counsel, and Federal Administrative Justice Tribunal activities have been suspended until May 6 with the exception of a few urgent Supreme Court cases.

The IMPI remains open, but Mexican federal courts have announced a suspension of activities from March 18 until April 19. All deadlines falling within that period will be suspended. More information

UAE

The UAE has announced a wide range of fee reductions intended to support local and foreign companies impacted by COVID 19. Notably, search fees have been reduced from 500 AED (137 USD) to 350 AED (95 USD). The entire list of fee reductions can be found here.

Yemen

Due to many oppositions and disputed commercial cases, Yemen has made trademark registrations for medical appliances and pharmaceuticals mandatory. The announcement was made by the general directorate of Intellectual Property.

Algeria

Algeria has announced limited working hours from March 22, until April 10. A grace period of one month will be granted for deadlines falling within this window once working hours return to normal.

Qatar

As of April 5, some legal deadlines and penalties stipulated by Qatar IP Laws have been suspended respecting the force majeure resulting from COVID 19. The period of suspension will last from the announcement until the force majeure concludes which will be announced. Importantly, the above suspension of deadlines is not applicable to annuities, examination, and grant fees for patents which are paid online.

Turkey

All deadlines as of March 13 to April 30 will be extended. Deadlines within this period will be recalculated as of May 1 based on the remaining days of current deadlines falling between March 13, and April 30.

Brazil

The National Institute of Industrial Property has announced a suspension of deadlines falling between March 16 and April 14. The Brazilian IP Office, advised applicants to use its online services to meet deadlines rather than relying on extensions as the IP Office is operational. The notice can be found here.

General Closures & Deadline Extensions

All operations at the following intellectual property offices have been suspended until either further notice or a set date. The deadlines to be met during this period for each of these offices will be automatically extended until each office reopens for business. Dates provided are tentative and suspensions of activity may be extended.

  • Dijbouti  –  Until further notice
  • Ethiopia  –  April 20
  • Egypt  –  April 10
  • Gaza  –  Until further notice
  • Iraq  –  April 11
  • Jordan  –  April 14
  • Kurdistan  –  April 10
  • Kuwait  –  April 12
  • Lebanon  –  April 14
  • Oman  –  Until further notice
  • Pakistan  –  April 14
  • Sudan  –  April 19
  • Syria  –  Until further notice
  • Tunisia  –  April 20
  • West Bank  –  April 30

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