March 20, 2020

COVID-19 IP Update

March 31 — The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office used the authority granted by the CARES Act to extend most patent and trademark deadlines by 30 days, provided that someone associated with the filing was “personally affected” by the Covid-19 Virus. The delay is due to COVID-19 if a “person associated with the filing or fee was personally affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, including, without limitation, through office closures, cash flow interruptions, inaccessibility of files or other materials, travel delays, personal or family illness, or similar circumstances, such that the outbreak materially interfered with timely filing or payment.” Read more about the patent extension. Read more about the trademark extension.


March 25 — The Director of the USPTO is to be given temporary authority to waive deadlines. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) H.R. 748 being worked on by Congress includes Section 12004, which gives the Director of the USPTO temporary authority to toll, waive, adjust, or modify deadlines imposed by regulation or statute. Other patent offices, including in Canada and Europe, have suspended deadlines, but aside from reducing fees for reviving certain abandoned applications, the U.S. Patent Office was unable to suspend deadlines, because the Director lacked the authority to change statutory deadlines. There has been no indication whether the Director presently plans on using this temporary authority. Read the section of the CARES Act that addresses this topic.


March 20 — The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has issued a number of statements related to its COVID-19 response. First, the Court has closed its building to the public. Second, The Court ordered that hearings conducted in April will be by telephone. Third, The Court has restricted paper submissions. Read all of the Court’s announcements


March 20 — IP Australia announces that extensions for due dates may be available, but adds that requests will likely require a declaration stating how the COVID-19 outbreak interfered with responding in time. Requests for a waiver or refund will be considered on a case by case basis. Read IP Australia’s statement on business continuity and the Coronavirus disease outbreak.


March 19 — The Canadian Patent Office has extended deadlines falling between March 16, 2020 and March 31, 2020. They are extended until April 1, 2020. Read CIPO’s update on operations and services.


March 19 — European Trademark Office has extended all time limits expiring between 9 March and 30 April 2020 until May 1, 2020 (actually May 4 considering holidays and weekends). Read the EUIPO’s statement on the extension of time limits.


March 19 — USPTO waives original handwritten signature requirement for certain correspondence with the Office of Enrollment and Discipline and certain payments by credit card, covered by 37 CFR 1.4(e)(1) and (2). Read the USPTO statement regarding waiving handwritten signature requirement.


March 16 — USPTO eliminates fees for some petitions to revive applications abandoned because of the COVID-19 virus. Petitioner must be willing to state that the delay in filing the reply required by the outstanding Office communication was because the practitioner, applicant, or at least one inventor was personally affected by the Coronavirus outbreak such that they were unable to file a timely reply. Read the USPTO’s statement regarding Relief Available to Patent and Trademark Applicants.


March 15 — USPTO Offices closed to the public beginning Monday, March 16, 2020 until further notice. USPTO offices will remain open for employees, contractors, and those with access badges. Unless otherwise notified, USPTO operations will continue without interruption. Patent and trademark application deadlines and other deadlines are not extended. Read the USPTO’s notices regarding COVID-19.


March 15 — European Patent Office has extended all time limits expiring on or after 15 March 2020 until 17 April 2020. For time limits expiring before 15 March 2020, the EPO has facilitated the use of legal remedies for users located in areas directly affected by disruptions due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Read the EPO’s updates regarding Coronavirus.