Updated: Coronavirus Pandemic Advice from Patent Offices
This April update follows our March news article 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 6 weeks, and we expect this to continue as long as the disruption caused by this pandemic.
UK patent office
The UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) has released updated advice to let users know how it is dealing with the outbreak. They have put into place robust plans in place to maintain services for customers applying for rights.
Staff have moved to working from home, but the majority of their services remain unaffected. The UK IPO continues to operate as normal for the vast majority of customers.
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 of the patent office 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 7th May, and the Patent Office indicates we should 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 21st April 2020 indicates that:
- All time limits expiring on or after 15 March 2020 are extended until 4 May 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. The extension of time limits also applies to periods for paying fees, including renewal fees;
- Oral proceedings will not be held in the premises of the Boards of Appeal until 15 May 2020 and only oral proceedings before examining and opposition divisions already arranged to take place by videoconference will take place as scheduled. A pilot will be started for opposition oral proceedings by videoconference; and
- Search, examining and opposition divisions will continue with their other activities, as well as holding oral proceedings which have been confirmed to take place by means of videoconferencing;
- all EPO organised events that involve more than 50 participants in March and April (including the European Qualifying Examinations) remain postponed.
We are seeing prosecution progress on a lot of the cases we are handling. If there is a long term slow down in prosecution at the EPO remains to be seen.
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 strange times.