* PLEASE NOTE THIS NEWS ITEM HAS LAST BEEN UPDATED ON 22 JUNE 2020. In response to the disruption caused by the Covid-19 outbreak, a number of intellectual property offices have taken steps to extend deadlines.
European Patent Office
All periods expiring on or after 15 March 2020 had further been extended until 2 June 2020 but the EPO has since been operating as usual.
In view of the ongoing disruptions caused by the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) the European Patent Office (EPO) has decided to postpone until further notice all oral proceedings in opposition scheduled until 14 September 2020 (previously until 2 June 2020) which have not either already been confirmed to take place by videoconference or will be held by videoconference with the parties' consent under the pilot project. The EPO Notice is set out here or click here to read our articles on 'EPO entering the digital age - Examining Division oral proceedings now by video conference', 'Pilot project - oral proceedings by video conference before Opposition Divisions' and 'Video conference oral proceedings before the Boards of Appeal'.
European Union Intellectual Property Office
The EUIPO agreed to extend all time limits falling between 9 March 2020 and 17 May 2020 until 18 May 2020 but now the suspension has ended. The EUIPO has published new guidance about what to do if faced with operational difficulties related to the pandemic, following the end of the extension period.
UK Intellectual Property Office
The UKIPO declared 24 March, and subsequent days until further notice, to be interrupted days and any deadlines for patents, supplementary protection certificates, trade marks and designs, and applications for them, which fall on an interrupted day will be extended until further notice.
This decision applies to all statutory time periods set out in UK legislation, and to all non-statutory periods set by the UKIPO. This decision does not apply to time periods set out under the various international IP treaties, for example, the Patent Cooperation Treaty, European Patent Convention, or the Madrid system, where the UKIPO may be acting as a receiving office.
On 22 June 2020, the UKIPO decided to bring the interrupted days period to an end on 29 July. This will mean that the first normal day of operation when all interrupted days deadlines expire will be Thursday 30 July. The UKIPO notice is set out here.
The German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA)
All current time limits set by the DPMA were automatically extended until 04 May 2020. There will not be any notifications about the amended deadline expiry dates and no notice has been issued. This does not apply to deadlines set by the law (such as priority or opposition deadlines). On 30 April 2020, the DPMA issued a notice that all hearings and oral proceedings that have been scheduled will not take place and are cancelled ex officio and until 30 June 2020 and no summons to appear in hearings or oral proceedings will be issued, whether the proceedings are unilateral or multilateral. The DPMA notices can be found here.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
The majority of WIPO staff have been working remotely since 17 March 2020. To date however, unlike the EPO and the EUIPO, no blanket extensions of time have yet been issued by WIPO. We are expecting any further announcements relating to Covid-19 to be issued here.
Although these general extensions provide welcome flexibility, we do not intend to make routine use of these extensions but are committed to file applications, responses and other required documents within their original deadlines with our staff working from home backed up by secure remote access. We do not therefore envisage any interruption to our services at this time.