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Lessons from Lockdown - UKIPO opposition hearings

Amy Reynolds


United Kingdom

In response to the impact of COVID-19, the UK Intellectual Property Office ("UKIPO") has declared 24 March 2020 and subsequent days until further notice to be interrupted days.  The declaration of interrupted days means that any deadlines which fall on an interrupted day will be extended to the next non-interrupted day. At the time of writing the next review of interrupted days is due on 22 June 2020 and the UKIPO will provide a minimum of 2 weeks’ notice before ending the interrupted days period.

Whilst the interrupted days declaration has extended deadlines such as for filing notices of opposition, counterstatements, evidence and submissions in trade mark opposition matters, the UKIPO is still proceeding with opposition hearings (and other hearings) during the lockdown period.
The opposition hearings take place via video link with all parties present, including the applicant, opponent, their legal representatives (if applicable), the Hearing Officer and the transcriber (who is off-screen).
Prior to the hearing, the Tribunal Hearings Clerk asks for confirmation as to who will be attending, and offers the parties an opportunity to have a "trial run" of the technology, in order to ensure that they are able to be seen and heard via the video conferencing facility. The Clerk also monitors the hearing and the tribunal section email address during the course of the hearing to ensure that all parties are able to see and hear the proceedings.
We attended an opposition hearing in early June, and found the process worked well. The only slight glitch was for a few minutes where the transcriber was disconnected from the call. The Hearing Officer was able to resolve this quickly and kept us all up to date throughout.
We strongly recommend participating in the "trial run" in order to get familiar with using the technology, and our other top tip is for any party not speaking to use the mute function - this significantly improves sound quality and reduces feedback on the video call. Finally, as hearings can sometimes run for longer than planned, we recommend having some refreshments on hand!

A phased return to work is taking place in different sectors.  Fieldfisher is committed to supporting you through the transition and beyond.  We continue to be available to our clients either remotely or in person, with your business as usual matters, as well as for C-19 support. Please review our Covid-19 hub for updates and get in touch if you require further information.