IntroductionFurther to our previous update IP updates regarding the coronavirus and as the COVID-19 pandemic becomes more widespread across the world, IP registry offices continue to adjust their services and deadlines to accommodate the effects of the pandemic.
Live updates can be found at the publicly accessible World Trademark Review webpage.
Below are brief summaries for several jurisdictions in which we operate.
The UK IP Office (UKIPO) has closed its offices in Newport and London. The majority of its services remain unaffected. However, the following changes have been implemented: the declaration of a period of "interrupted days" (from 24 March 2020 until further notice) to provide flexibility (e.g. extensions of time) until normal business resumes; no business or communication to be dealt with by fax or paper; and a new dedicated email address for services that are not available online (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The situation will be reviewed on 17 April 2020.
The following email addresses have been provided for Tribunal services:
- email@example.com – filing all forms for which there is no online process
- firstname.lastname@example.org – filing all evidence and Forms TM33, TM33P & TM21a.
Users are encouraged to meet existing deadlines to file notices of opposition (TM7) or threatened opposition (TM7A). If this is not possible and interrupted days are considered when filing these forms after the deadline (but no later than the first day which is not interrupted), please note the following:
- TM7As filed after the two month deadline are not being accepted by the IT system (investigations into fixing this are ongoing)
- Filing a TM7A merely extends the period for filing an opposition to three months from the publication date of the mark in question
The deadline for responses to be filed for new trade mark examination reports has been extended from two months to four months. This does not apply to existing UKIPO deadlines .
The Irish IP Office (IPOI) will stay closed "for transaction business with the public" until at least 19 April 2020. Any days until then are to be treated as "excluded days" from deadlines. IPOI are now working remotely and cannot deal with telephone enquiries. All enquiries should be sent to the following email address: email@example.com.
Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg
The Benelux IP Office (BOIP) announced that all of its employees are working from home, its offices are closed to the public and current deadlines are postponed. A letter was posted explaining the implications of postponed deadlines.
The French IP Office (INPI) has postponed most IP-related deadlines occurring between 12 March 2020 and one month after the end of the state of health emergency by either one month after the end of this period (if the initial deadline period was one month) or two months after the end of this period (if the initial deadline period was two months or more).
The German IP Office (DPMA) has closed its information centres and research rooms "until further notice". For the foreseeable future there will be no on-site consultation and no initial consultations for inventors.
Users have been warned to "not make any requests that are not absolutely necessary until further notice", especially regarding status updates or requests for extension of deadlines.
The Italian IP Office (UIBM) has extended administrative procedures and the validity of expiring documents. Any certificates and IP titles expiring between 31 January 2020 and 15 April 2020 are valid until 15 June 2020 (this excludes international trade mark applications).
Their premises have been closed to the public since 12 March 2020. Office staff are working remotely and are fully operational.
The Spanish IP Office (OEPM) published Royal Decree 463/2020, which states that "all kinds of applications will continue to be accepted for processing". However, a suspension of all administrative procedures is not implied.
The China National IP Administration (CNIPA) has extended deadlines for any trade mark applicant or proprietor affected by COVID-19. Deadlines for trade mark matters can be suspended from the date a user "was hospitalised or isolated after being infected with the novel coronavirus" or from the date a business suspended operating "due to the prevention and control measures". Such extensions will last "until the date when the infected user is discharged from hospital, or when the isolation ends, or when the business resumes work". Trade mark proprietors who fail to renew their trade mark within the extension period due to COVID-19 can apply for an additional two month extension.
EUIPO and WIPO
The EUIPO clarified that the extension of all time limits between 9 March 2020 and 30 April 2020 to 1 May 2020 applies automatically to all procedural deadlines regardless of whether they are imposed by statute or by the EUIPO.
WIPO remains operational but has activated its business continuity protocol and moved to an almost entirely virtual work presence, with only a small pool of personnel retaining access to the Geneva, Switzerland headquarters.
As a result of ongoing disruption to postal services around the world, the International Bureau of WIPO will be delivering electronic PDF versions of certain documents for the foreseeable future. Hard copies of these documents will be sent "as soon as possible".
Such documents are certified copies of the following:
- Certificates of international registration
- Certificates of international renewal
- Detailed certified extracts.
With special thanks to trainee, Chris Tang, for his contribution to this blog.
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