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 (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.

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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 14 September 2020 unless already confirmed to take place by videoconference or the parties agree for them to be held by videoconference. The EPO intends to maintain oral proceedings in opposition which have been scheduled to take place on the premises of the EPO on or after 15 September 2020. Oral proceedings before the examination divisions will continue to be held by videoconference 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 Boards of Appeal resumed the holding of oral proceedings, to a limited extent, from Monday 18 May 2020. Parties will be contacted accordingly by communication and will be requested to confirm whether they are able to attend in person and that they do not anticipate affected by travel restrictions. Video conferencing is now available for the conduct of oral proceedings before the Boards of Appeal, in agreement with the parties concerned, who will be sent an advanced communication in this regard. More information can be found here (EPO Covid-19 appeal proceedings).

Future announcements are likely to be found here (EPO Covid-19 news).

Last updated 02 June 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 has declared 24 March 2020, and subsequent days until further notice, to be interrupted days. This will be reviewed again on 22 June 2020. The UKIPO is also still stating that it will provide a minimum of two weeks' notice before ending the period of interrupted days.

Any deadlines and applications for patents, supplementary protection certificates, trade marks and designs 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, such as the Patent Cooperation Treaty, European Patent Convention, or the Madrid system, where the UKIPO may be acting as a receiving office.

Further information can be found here (UKIPO Coronavirus news updates).

Last updated 01 June 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.

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