COVID-19 updates for intellectual property right holders, applicants and opponents
Governments around the world have implemented a wide range of protocols to control the spread of COVID-19 throughout their jurisdictions. The various intellectual property offices have recognised this is an unprecedented situation that may have an impact on the ability of right holders, applicants, opponents and their representatives to meet deadlines associated with their intellectual property rights.
Below is a short summary of the current position taken by the intellectual property offices in the following key markets:
All services of the intellectual property office of Australia are currently operating as usual and all deadlines are not automatically extended. Where an applicant cannot carry out an action within time due to the COVID-19 outbreak an extension of time may be available.
Requests for extensions of time will need to be made in the normal way, accompanied where required by a declaration setting out how the COVID-19 outbreak interfered with responding in time. Requests for waiver or refund of the fee for the extension of time will be considered on a case by case basis.
Applicants should note that by law, some time periods cannot be extended. Applicants should seek advice if they are uncertain whether an extension of time is possible, and not assume that an extension will automatically be granted due to the outbreak.
All services of the intellectual property office of New Zealand are currently operating as usual and all deadlines are not automatically extended. If circumstances related to the COVID-19 outbreak have affected or are affecting a right holder, applicant or opponent’s ability to respond by a deadline, they may request an extension of time to meet that deadline. The intellectual property office of New Zealand will assess extension of time requests on a case-by-case basis and no fees for extensions of time apply.
United States of America
All United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) offices are closed to the public until further notice. However, operations will continue without interruption and all deadlines are not automatically extended.
Where an applicant cannot carry out an action within time due to the COVID-19 outbreak an extension of time may be available. The USPTO is waiving extension petition fees in certain situations, where parties have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
All services of the intellectual property office of the United Kingdom are currently operating as usual and all deadlines are not automatically extended. Where an applicant cannot carry out an action within time due to the COVID-19 outbreak an extension of time may be available. Requests for extensions will be considered as favourably as possible and fees may be waived at the Office’s discretion.
The intellectual property office of Ireland is closed from 13 March until 29 March 2020 (inclusive). Any deadlines falling within that time will be extended to 30 March 2020.
The intellectual property office of the European Union is closed to the public. All deadlines falling between 9 March and 30 April 2020 are automatically extended until 1 May 2020 (in practice, 4 May 2020 as 1 May is a Friday and a public holiday in Spain).
World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO)
All services of WIPO are currently operating as usual and all deadlines are not automatically extended. Applications filed through the PCT, Madrid System and Hague System and administer other IP and related systems (such as the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Centre) will be processed as normal.
Government protocols relating to COVID-19 are changing rapidly and should be regularly monitored. McCullough Robertson has published a collective firm guide, which can be accessed here.
Our guide provides advice and commentary on COVID-19, which will continue to be updated regularly. McCullough Robertson will be here to support our clients and staff however required, through these unprecedented and difficult times.
If you have any questions regarding this update, your intellectual property, or any other aspect of your business, please do not hesitate to reach out to any of our team.
This publication covers legal and technical issues in a general way. It is not designed to express opinions on specific cases. It is intended for information purposes only and should not be regarded as legal advice. Further advice should be obtained before taking action on any issue dealt with in this publication.