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JUNE UPDATE: Coronavirus pandemic advice from patent offices

This June update follows our May, March and April updates on this matter.

The UK IPO and EPO remain “open for business” during the coronavirus outbreak, despite their buildings being shut for the foreseeable future.

We at TLIP have been and will continue to be maintaining open dialogue with the patent offices to ensure we can do everything we can to keep things running smoothly through any difficulties clients may experience as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak. We are advising clients to let us know as soon as possible if they foresee any issues meeting deadlines, and we can often put in place a plan to meet the deadline.

TLIP have implemented a working strategy in place to ensure smooth running throughout the Coronavirus outbreak. Things have been running seamlessly these last few months, and we expect this to continue.

 

UK IPO

The UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) has put into place robust plans to maintain services for customers applying for IP rights. The UK IPO continues to operate as normal for the vast majority of customers. Their latest advice can be found on their website, last updated 22nd June.

Importantly, the UK IPO has declared 24 March, and all subsequent days up to and including 29th July, as “interrupted days”. This means for patents, supplementary protection certificates, trade marks, designs and all applications for these rights, most deadlines which fall on an “interrupted day” will be extended.

This is in addition to the UK IPO previously announcing they will allow extension of time periods where national and international legislation allows, will give favourable consideration of requests for extensions of time past the usual extension periods available, their intention to use discretionary powers to support customers and their indication that reinstatement or restoration of rights may also be available to applicants, if necessary.

The latest review of the interrupted period on 22nd June 2020 set the end of the interrupted days period to be 29th July 2020.

 

European Patent Office

The European Patent Office (EPO) has been frequently updating their advice as the Coronavirus outbreak develops. Their latest advice can be found here, and as of 12th June indicates that:

  • All time limits expiring on or after 15th March 2020 were extended until 2nd June 2020. This blanket extension to nearly all deadlines before the EPO has now ended. The EPO considers the disruption in Germany to have died down sufficiently for things to resume as normal regarding deadlines;
  • For time limits expiring before 15th 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. The extension of time limits also applies to periods for paying fees, including renewal fees, although it may not apply to non-procedural deadlines such as filing of divisional applications;
  • Newly announced: it is possible as of 1st June 2020 to pay renewal fees due on or after 15th March 2020 up until 31st August 2020 inclusive without being charged the additional fee under Rule 51(2) EPC.
  • The Boards of Appeal has resumed the holding of oral proceedings, to a limited extent, at their premises in Haar from Monday, 18 May 2020, and only oral proceedings before examining and opposition divisions already arranged to take place by videoconference will take place as scheduled. These measures have been updated to last until at least 14th September 2020.
  • A pilot scheme is underway, trailing opposition oral proceedings by videoconference; and
  • All EPO organised events that involve more than 50 participants until 14 September 2020 remain postponed or cancelled (including the European Qualifying Examinations and the 2020 edition of the European Inventor Awards).

 

For Applicants experiencing difficulties, the usual legal remedies are available: applied for extensions to time limits, using the “further processing” period for deadlines and, in exception circumstances, re-establishment of rights when deadlines have been missed.