Coronavirus: IP offices in Europe – changed practice
As a response to the new coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, intellectual property offices in Europe have implemented special measures to offer some level of flexibility to rights holders whilst Europe is working under new and uncertain conditions. Full details of these measures can be found below (first published on this web page on 19 March 2020 and regularly updated). Whilst this flexibility is welcomed we are not intending to make use of these provisions but will continue to work to the original deadlines.
Coronavirus (Covid-19) client update
In view of the spread of the new coronavirus disease, Covid-19, in the UK and Germany, we have implemented a number of measures to ensure that our staff are safe and well and that we maintain our high levels of client service.Read more
European Patent Office (EPO)
The EPO's blanket provisions for extending deadlines in response to Covid-19 ended on 02 June 2020. Requests for missed deadlines to be excused will now be considered on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the EPO's normal provisions for excusing missed deadlines due to circumstances beyond the applicant's control.
The EPO has also postponed oral proceedings before the opposition divisions that are scheduled until 31 December 2020 (previously 14 September 2020) unless already confirmed to take place by videoconference or the parties agree for them to be held by videoconference. The EPO currently intends to maintain oral proceedings in opposition which have been scheduled to take place on the premises of the EPO in the new year.
Oral proceedings before the examination divisions will continue to be held by videoconference as the default in accordance with the EPO's previous notice. This means for summons issued from 02 April 2020, oral proceedings before the examination divisions will be by videoconference unless there are serious reasons for holding them in person. For summons issued before 02 April 2020, oral proceedings before the examination divisions will be held by videoconference if this was already confirmed or if the applicant subsequently agrees for them to be held by videoconference.
The Board of Appeal is continuing to hold oral proceedings. The Board of Appeal will no longer contact parties to enquire whether they are able to attend oral proceedings. If parties cannot attend oral proceedings for which they have been summoned, they will now have to request a change of date (see Article 15(2) RPBA 2020).
To assist with distancing some appeal oral proceedings will be held in the Isar building in Munich in addition to the main appeal building in Haar, there may be staggered start times, and attendance is generally restricted to a maximum of two people per party. Importantly, as a general rule, parties will not be sent a communication informing them of a change of venue or starting time. As such changes may take place at short notice. It is up to the parties to consult the EPO online oral proceedings calendar approximately three days before their oral proceedings to check whether they will take place on the Haar premises or in the Isar building and when exactly they are scheduled to start. D Young and Co representatives will of course monitor any changes of location and time and advise clients accordingly. Parties wishing to attend with more than two people should submit a reasoned request to that effect in advance of the oral proceedings. It will be for the Board of Appeal to decide on their request.
Board of Appeal hearings can be held via videoconference but only with the consent of all parties.
More information can be found here (EPO reassessed Covid-19 appeal proceedings) and here (EPO Covid-19 examination opposition proceedings).
Future announcements are likely to be found here (EPO Covid-19 news).
Last updated 29 July 2020.
European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO)
All staff at the EUIPO have been working at home since 16 March 2020 with the intention that it will be business as usual.
Exceptional extensions to time limits covering all procedural deadlines, to support users during the Covid-19 pandemic, came to an end on 18 May 2020. All deadlines at the EUIPO are now operating as usual. However, provision to extend deadlines due to a party's inability to meet deadlines will exist in the usual way. Further information can be found here (EUIPO Covid-19 information).
Last updated 19 May 2020.
UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO)
The UKIPO declared 24 March 2020, and subsequent days until 29 July 2020, to be interrupted days. Any deadlines and applications for patents, supplementary protection certificates, trade marks and designs which fell on an interrupted day were extended until 30 July 2020. This decision applied to all statutory time periods set out in UK legislation, and to all non-statutory periods set by the UKIPO. The decision did not apply to time periods set out under the various international IP treaties, such as the Patent Cooperation Treaty, European Patent Convention, or the Madrid system, where the UKIPO may be acting as a receiving office.
The first normal day of operation when all interrupted days deadlines expire was 30 July 2020. All deadlines falling after 30 July 2020 will be treated as usual.
The UKIPO has announced some temporary fee changes from 30 July 2020 until 31 March 2021 to provide increased flexibility and support following the end of the period of interrupted days. The fee changes are:
- Fees for extensions of time will be zero.
- No surcharge for payment of a patent application fee after the date of filing.
- Fees to apply for reinstatement and restoration will be zero.
- For patents and designs, there will be no surcharge for late payment of a renewal fee.
- For trade marks, the surcharge for late payment of a renewal fee will be £1.
Further information can be found here (UKIPO Coronavirus news updates).
Last updated 30 July 2020.
The German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA)
During March 2020 the DPMA automatically extended all time limits to 04 May 2020. Separate notifications about the amended deadline expiry dates were not issued. The DPMA has not issued any further automatic extensions and further extensions are not expected to be issued at this time.
The DPMA has a dedicated page for Covid-19 updates found here (DPMA Covid-19 news).
Last updated 05 May 2020.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
Since 17 March 2020, the majority of WIPO staff have been working remotely. WIPO has also since released communications here (Madrid System - PDF) and here (Hague System - PDF), relating to trademark and registered design matters respectively, concerning the existing remedies available for extending a response deadline which otherwise falls on a day when either WIPO or an IP Office of a contracting party is not open to the public. 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 (WIPO press room).
Last updated 19 March 2020.