COVID-19 Update

* PLEASE NOTE THIS NEWS ITEM HAS BEEN LAST UPDATED ON 29 MAY 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

The EPO has announced that all periods expiring on or after 15 March 2020 have further been extended until 2 June 2020. If the disruption should continue after 2 June 2020, the EPO may publish another notice informing users about further extensions and remedies in respect of time limits. As regards 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 extensions and remedies apply to parties and representatives in proceedings under the EPC and the PCT. The EPO Notice is set out here. This general extension may not apply to all time limits (eg. the deadline for filing a divisional application), so please consult your usual contact before relying on this Notice.

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.

The EUIPO notice is set out here or click here for the latest update from the EUIPO.

UK Intellectual Property Office

The UKIPO has 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.

The situation was reviewed on 29 May 2020, and due to continuation of the current government restrictions to combat the Coronavirus outbreak, it was decided to continue with the period of interruption. This will be reviewed again on 22 June. The UKIPO has also confirmed that  it will give customers advance notice to plan prior to the cessation of interrupted days. 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.