Governments around the world have stepped up their efforts to deal with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), which has affected lives and economies. The latest statistics by the World Health Organisation reveal that more than 50 countries have reported cases of infection.
Following guidance from health authorities, governments and user feedback, some IP Offices have published announcements on how they are dealing with the impact of the pandemic.*
Below we pick out the regional IP Offices and the top 10 national IP Offices (according to the EPO’s Patent Index 2019). We'll update this article as soon as we get further updates or receive information about any other IP Office. Please send any information you have to email@example.com
Our thoughts are with all those affected by this pandemic. We wish you and your loved ones well.
WIPO has launched an online portal to help stakeholders monitor the measures taken by some of the IP Offices across the world. The portal also covers IP policy and legislative developments in some jurisdictions.
Access the portal here.
Where available and appropriate, below each summary we've included the IP Office's dedicated COVID-19 news page where you can find both the previous and latest announcements.
A notable news update we can report today is that the EPO has extended its deadlines to May 4. The Office said: "All time limits expiring on or after 15 March 2020 are further extended until 4 May 2020. 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.... If the disruption should continue after 4 May 2020, the EPO may publish another notice informing users about further extensions and remedies in respect of time limits."
The Belgian Intellectual Property Office said that it will consider a request for extension of time limits “as favourably as possible, on a case by case basis” and recommends the use of email and fax. In a press release on March 30, the Office also said: “[W]e have decided not to send, as far as possible, any legal notifications that would have the effect of setting a new binging deadline.” Read more here and here.
China's IP Office has published an update confirming that the deadline relief announced in January applies to all countries. Read the notice here.
The Dutch Patent Office is now closed, but users can submit documents or requests online and make enquiries via email or telephone. Patent applicants can request for an extension of time or restoration of rights. The Office is currently unable to undertake certain tasks, including dealing with paper documents. Read more here.
The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) has confirmed that users can request for an extension of time by completing a form or sending an email to them. IPOS also encourages customers to use its online services, but the Office can also accept documents by post. Read the notice here.
KIPO has announced the extension of deadlines for application procedures due between March 31 and April 29 to April 30. Certain statutory deadlines are not covered by this ex officio relief. Read more here.
The IPI suspended the majority of the time limits due between March 21 and April 19, meaning the due date is now April 20. The Office said ‘for all procedures’ it will grant a two-month extension upon request and may grant more time if there are ‘important reasons’. Find out how/when to request for an extension of deadlines or reinstatement or restoration of IP rights here.
WIPO has compiled its announcements concerning the Madrid system here. You can also follow its updates for the PCT system (here) and the Hague system (here).
All the links relating to COVID-19 can also be found here.
South Korea’s IP Office also produced a useful document with links to the IP Office announcements in jurisdictions such as Austria, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines and Dominica Republic. Read it here or download the document here.
The USPTO has today announced a 30-day extension of deadlines due between March 27 and April 30 for filing certain patent and trade mark-related documents and taking certain actions, such as paying fees. Users will have to provide a statement saying that the failure to meet the deadline was due to the pandemic. The USPTO has offered this relief because of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which was signed into law by President Trump on March 27. Read the full details for patent here and for trade mark here.
Follow the USPTO’s updates here.
CIPO's previous ‘designated period’ was March 16 to March 31, meaning deadlines within those dates were extended to April 1. CIPO has now extended the period so deadlines now fall on May 1. The Office said it may extend the period again if there are still disruptions. Follow CIPO’s updates here.
The EPO's new, increased fees are due to come into effect on April 1. Following its decision to extend deadlines to April 17, the EPO has published a notice explaining the amount of fees to be paid and on what date. The notice said: "[T]he Office has decided that the new amounts of the fees fixed by the decision of 12 December 2019 will not apply to payments effected on or after 1 April 2020 in respect of fees having a due date on or before 31 March 2020 or for which the period for payment expires on that date." Read more here.
Follow the EPO's announcements here.
The International Bureau has stopped sending communications to the Hague system users by postal mail service. Users will now receive a secure email with the relevant information. Read the recent Hague system notices here.
The Director General Fernando Dos Santos has confirmed that ARIPO will consider time limit extension requests “on a case-by-case basis”. In the notice, published on March 25, Dos Santos added: “The Office reiterates that it remains operational and users are encouraged to continue using its 24-hour online services to file applications and make online payments.” Follow the updates here.
The Russian Patent Office will be closed from March 28 until April 5, with time limits falling in this period suspended until April 6. The Eurasian Patent Office (EAPO) has taken the same approach for Eurasian applications and patents, though its offices are closed until April 15. EAPO has advised customers to use its online services. Follow the EAPO’s updates here.
Following the public movement restrictions announced by the UK government, the IPO has closed its offices “until further notice”. The IPO has declared “24 March, and subsequent days until further notice, interrupted days” and extended deadlines until further notice. The ‘interrupted days’ period will be reviewed on April 17.
Follow the IPO's updates here.
The EU’s Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) has extended the time limit concerning proceedings that fall between March 17 and May 3 to May 4 2020. In its notice, the Office said: “The extension applies to all deadlines [that affect all parties in proceedings before the Office] except for the submission of material for technical examinations and the payment of examination fees.” Read more here and follow the CPVO’s updates here.
In its latest update, the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) confirmed that it has extended the time limits for pending procedures to May 4. The DPMA also advised customers to use its online services and warned of possible delays in issuing documents and publishing the IP gazette. Hearings are suspended.
Read more and follow the DPMA’s updates here.
On March 19, the INPI published a notice that it will extend deadlines relating to patent, trade mark and design by four months, excluding deadline for trade mark oppositions. The Office also said that the impact of the pandemic would be taken into account when dealing with requests for restoration and reinstatement of lapsed IP rights because of the crisis. INPI’s offices are closed to the public, but its online services are available. Read the INPI’s notices here and here.
Follow the INPI's updates here.
The Israel Patent Office first published a notice on March 15 announcing the cancellation of tribunal hearings and advised against visits. On March 22, the Office published an update which, among other things, confirmed that an extension of deadline is available, though subject to review; there will be no file closures until May 1 to allow applicants to request for an extension; and the time period for responding to Office communications and submitting tribunal documents will be suspended until May 1.
The Office also warned of statutory deadlines that are not extendable, and that it is not currently in the position to waive payment of fees or the deadline to do so. An announcement was published today to clarify two operational points. Follow all the announcements here.
The Portuguese IP Office also published an update confirming the suspension of deadlines effective from March 12. The notice also confirmed that a signature is no longer required for its online services and face-to-face services are not available. Its online services are available and users can send documents via post. Read more here.
Following the national emergency lockdown announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa, the South African Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) has shut down until April 30 and extended all time limits to May 1. Read the CIPC’s notice here and follow updates here.
The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) yesterday announced that it would grant an extension if a user failed to meet time limits for submitting documents or paying fees because of the pandemic. In its press release, KIPO also advised customers to use its online services and avoid visiting its premises. Follow KIPO’s updates here.
The National Institute of Industrial Property has announced that it has suspended deadlines falling between March 16 and April 14. The Brazilian IP Office, however, advised applicants to use its online services to meet the deadlines instead of simply relying on the extension. Read the notice here.
The Mexican Institute of Industrial Property also announced the suspension of deadlines falling between March 24 and April 19. Read the notice here (in Spanish).
IP Australia confirmed that its users can request for an extension of time if they cannot meet a deadline due to the impact of COVID-19. The Office added: “Requests for waiver or refund of the fee for the extension of time will be considered on a case by case basis as per our current practice. Applicants should note that some time periods cannot be extended. Applicants should check with IP Australia or an intellectual property professional if they are uncertain whether an extension of time is possible.” The Office today published an advisory note concerning plant breeder’s rights. Follow the updates here.
The previous notices published by the Indian IP Office concerned office proceedings (see below). Today, the Office has published a notice that says that trade mark applicants can request for an extension of time. The Office has also cancelled all hearings for the rest of this month. Follow the updates here.
Following yesterday's announcement concerning the Hague system, WIPO has published a similar notice for the users of the Madrid system. To find out more, read 'Remedies and Extension of Time Limits Available for Madrid System Users'. The International Bureau has also published an advisory note for the users of the PCT system (see here).
The Malaysian Intellectual Property Office (MyIPO) has closed its office (effective from March 18 to March 31). According to law firm Shearn Delamore & Co, this means that MyIPO will not be accepting physical documents during this period. Read the firm's explanatory note here.
The UK IPO has published an update on how it is dealing with the impact of the pandemic. A key development is that the IPO has suspended physical hearings at its Aldgate Tower premises in London until June 1; however, it will continue to hold telephone and online hearings. The IPO also said: "We ask customers to use our online services and avoid attending our offices to file work." Read the update here.
The USPTO has today announced that it is "waiving its only regulatory requirements for an original handwritten signature personally signed in permanent dark ink or its equivalent for certain correspondence with the Office of Enrollment and Discipline and certain payments by credit card". Read more about this development here.
The International Bureau of WIPO has published 'Information Notice No. 5/2020' concerning the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs. In short, the notice says that users of the Hague System may be excused, with evidence, for failing to meet time limits due to the pandemic and time limits may be extended due to Office closures.
The Office, however, warned: "Applicants, holders and their representatives are advised not to wait until the last minute to submit time-sensitive communication to the International Bureau or to the Offices of Contracting Parties." Read the notice here.
ARIPO has announced that it “remains operational”, but advised users to make enquiries by email and telephone instead of visiting to do so. The Office also advised applicants to use its “24-hour online services to file applications and make online payments”.
The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) confirmed yesterday that its office “remains open and in operation at this time”, but warned users to “expect significant delays in all CIPO services”. In terms of time limits, CIPO has suspended deadlines due between March 16 and March 31 2020 (designated period), adding: “[I]f the circumstances that led to the designation of these days continues, the Commissioner, Registrar and Minister may decide to extend the period of time for which days are designated.” CIPO’s regional offices in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Montréal “are not receiving CIPO correspondence until further notice”. Its online services are available ‘24/7’. Read CIPO's notice here.
WIPO said that the “processing of applications filed via WIPO’s Global IP Services has not been affected”, adding that it has now put in place “remote working arrangements for all but staff whose work is for now premises-dependent from Tuesday, March 17”.
BOIP today announced that it won’t enforce deadlines during the period of public restrictions imposed by the Benelux countries and thereafter a month’s grace period will be granted to users. Read more here.
The EPO’s announcements included an extended deadline and relaxed rule on submission of documents for those in the ‘high-risk areas’ (six countries as of March 13: China, South Korea, Iran, Italy and the German Landkreis Heinsberg in Nordrhein Westfalen, and the French region Grand Est).
The Notice said:
“…Periods expiring on or after the date of the publication of this notice are thus extended for all parties and their representatives to 17 April 2020…”
“Pursuant to Rule 134(5) EPC, any document received late will be deemed to have been received in due time if the person concerned offers evidence that on any of the ten days preceding the day of expiry of a period, it was not possible to observe the time limit due to this exceptional occurrence and that the mailing or the transmission was effected at the latest on the fifth day after the end of the disruption.”
The EUIPO today announced that it is “extending all time limits expiring between 9 March 2020 and 30 April 2020, that affect all parties before the Office, to 1 May 2020.” The Office has also asked its staff to work from home. Read more here.
Follow the EUIPO's updates here.
The press release WIPO published on March 6 2020 said that the Office remains ‘operational’, but there are restrictions on movement, including ‘suspension of group visits to WIPO’. Read more here.
The Patent Office of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (The GCC Patent Office), Eurasian Patent Organisation (EAPO), African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) and African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) have not announced any measures relating to this pandemic.
The China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) announced a number of measures to accommodate disruptions and help users during the pandemic. The first key measure relaxed time limit rules (read Announcement No. 350 here), while the second measure, which was announced earlier this month, waived fees for missed patent annuity payments (read more here). The Supreme People’s Court conducted its first ‘online mobile hearing’ on February 25.
Despite the recorded cases in France, the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) has not announced any measures. INPI’s news page is here.
The German Patent and Trade Mark Office confirmed that it ‘cannot extend time limits specified by law’, but reminded users that they can request for ‘re-establishment of rights’ if IP rights are lost as a result of the pandemic. Read more here.
The Italian IP Office now requests for electronic or postal deposit of documents due to the closure of its offices. The Office suspended the time limit for Office proceedings, except for two procedures, until April 3 (read more here) and relaxed the time limit for submitting patent translations and payment of fees due between March 9 and April 3 (see here). The Office also extended deadlines for certain applications, including for trade marks (see here).
The Japan Patent Office did not publish any information concerning COVID-19 on its website. Its news page is here.
The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (which maintains the Netherlands Patent Office) announced that its staff will work from home ‘as much as possible’ and the offices are closed to the public. There are no specific IP measures on its website here.
The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) has not published any information on its news page (see here).
The Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) announced that it has closed its offices to the public ‘until further notice’, adding that it will provide further information concerning time limits. Read more here.
The UK IPO confirmed that it will “extend time periods where national and international legislation allows” and is “willing to consider requests for extensions of time as favourably as possible on a case-by-case basis”. Read more here.
The USPTO has not extended any deadlines, but its offices are closed to the public (read more here). The Office announced today that it will waive the petition fee to revive patent and trade mark applications and registrations that were abandoned or cancelled due to the impact of the pandemic. The Office provided some guidance on how the relief works, emphasising that the notice “does not grant waivers or extensions of dates or requirements set by statute”. The notice also specified trade mark and patent time limits that are not extendable by petition. Read the notice here. The Office announced last week that all in-person meetings, including hearings, will be conducted by video or telephone.
The National Institute of Industrial Property (INAPI) today advised users to make use of its online services. There are no specific procedural measures, such as deadline extension, in today's announcement (see here).
The Danish Patent and Trademark Office announced that it is ‘operating as normal’ but its staff will work from home until March 27. The Office, however, said that “due dates in relation to existing IP rights will not be affected”.
The Intellectual Property Office of Ireland (IPOI) has closed its office to the public until March 29. However, users can still use the Office’s online services and make enquiries by email and telephone during its opening hours. Read more here.
*Needless to say, please seek legal advice or clarification/confirmation from the relevant IP Office.