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MAY UPDATE: Coronavirus pandemic advice from patent offices

This early May update follows our March and April news articles 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 will 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 you foresee any issues meeting deadlines, and we can do our best to combat this.

TLIP have implemented a necessary, but measured, working strategy in place to ensure smooth running throughout the Coronavirus outbreak. Things have been running seamlessly this last 2 months, and we expect this to continue as long as the disruption caused by this pandemic does.

 

UK IPO

The UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) have put into place robust plans in place to maintain services for customers applying for 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 7th May.

Importantly, the UK IPO has declared 24 March, and subsequent days until further notice, “interrupted days”. This means for patents, supplementary protection certificates, trade marks, designs and all applications for these rights, any deadlines which fall on an “interrupted day” will be extended until the IPO notifies the end of the interrupted period.

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 next review of the interrupted period will be on 28th May 2020, and the Patent Office indicates we will be given at least two weeks notice before the “interrupted days” period ends.

 

European Patent Office

The European Patent Office (EPO) have been frequently updating their advice as the Coronavirus outbreak develops. Their latest advice can be found here, and as of 6th May 2020 indicates that:

  • All time limits expiring on or after 15th March 2020 are extended until 2nd June 2020 (extended from the previous 4th May 2020 extension). 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;
  • Oral proceedings will not be held in the premises of the Boards of Appeal until 15th May 2020 (which we imagine will be extended), and only oral proceedings before examining and opposition divisions already arranged to take place by videoconference will take place as scheduled. These measures are due to last until at least 2nd June 2020. A pilot is being started for opposition oral proceedings by videoconference; and
  • Search, examining and opposition divisions will continue with their other activities, as well as the examination division holding oral proceedings by means of videoconferencing;
  • All EPO organised events that involve more than 50 participants in March, April and May remain postponed or cancelled (including the European Qualifying Examinations and the 2020 edition of the European Inventor Awards).

Summary

We at TLIP are pleased to see the patent offices taking into account the disruption this pandemic may have caused its customers. Whilst we are all working fine here, we appreciate that the disruption could be significant to Applicants. We encourage any clients or interested in parties to get in touch regarding any issues they may have as early as possible, so we can help them navigate these potentially difficult times.