IP Cases & Articles

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. 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.

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European Patent Office (EPO)

Most deadlines are extended until 17 April 2020 with the possibility of further extensions, depending upon the circumstances at the end of this period.

The EPO has also postponed all oral proceedings scheduled to take place up to 17 April 2020 before the examining and opposition divisions, unless they are already set to occur by video conference. For summons issued from 02 April 2020, oral proceedings by video conference will be the default for examining division hearings. Oral proceedings will still be permitted in person where there are serious reasons against holding the oral proceedings by video conference. For summons issued prior to 02 April 2020, the oral proceedings will continue by video conference if this was already indicated, otherwise the applicant can agree to have the oral proceedings conducted by video conference. The EPO will continue to explore options for the use of video conferencing in oral proceedings before the opposition divisions.

The Boards of Appeal have now cancelled all hearings until 30 April 2020. At present there are no proposals for the Boards of Appeal to hold hearings by video conference.

Future announcements are likely to be found here (EPO Covid-19) - continually updated information).

Last updated 03 April 2020.

European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO)

All time limits falling between 09 March 2020 and 30 April 2020 (inclusive) are extended until 01 May 2020 (in practice 04 May 2020). As a consequence, periods to file a notice of opposition, cancellation and appeal will also be extended. All staff at the EUIPO have been working at home since 16 March with the intention that it will be business as usual. Further information can be found here (EUIPO Covid-19 extension of time limits).

Last updated 19 March 2020.

UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO)

The UKIPO has declared 24 March 2020, and subsequent days until further notice, to be interrupted days.

Any deadlines for patents, supplementary protection certificates, trade marks and designs, designs, and applications for them, which fall on an interrupted day will be extended until the UKIPO states that it will be ending the period of interrupted days.

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 UKIPO has said it will provide a minimum of two-weeks' notice before ending the interrupted days period. The situation will be reviewed on 17 April 2020, at which point a decision will be made to either continue with the period of interruption or end the period after a further two weeks. In practice this means that UKIPO deadlines are extended for a minimum of five weeks.

Last updated 27 March 2020.

The German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA)

All current time limits set by the DPMA are automatically extended until 04 May 2020. There will not be any notifications about the amended deadline expiry dates. This does not apply to deadlines set by the law (such a priority or opposition deadlines). The DPMA has a dedicated page for Covid-19 updates found here (DPMA Covid-19 news).

Last updated 19 March 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.

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