Intellectual Property Law Knowledge Center

IP Considerations During the Coronavirus Pandemic

March 25th, 2020

By: Dennis J. Butler

As the world continues to grapple with the ongoing pandemic of the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, intellectual property attorneys and their clients face new challenges daily.  State governors across the United States and world leaders around the globe have ordered millions of people to stay at home as much as possible to try to halt the spread of the virus.  While many offices have closed in accordance with those orders, Panitch Schwarze’s attorneys and staff are working remotely and are actively supporting our clients.

Since most document filing is done online, we expect the prosecution of patent, trademark, and copyright applications to continue smoothly.  The situation is, however, changing day by day.  Panitch Schwarze is monitoring IP offices from around the world, and we will continue to bring you the latest updates.

United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

  • The USPTO has announced extensions to the time allowed to file certain patent and trademark-related documents and to pay certain required fees. These actions are an exercise of temporary authority provided to the USPTO by the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed into law on March 27.
  • All interviews, oral hearings and meetings at the USPTO will be conducted remotely by video or by telephone, until further notice.
  • The agency’s offices are closed to the public. The offices remain open for employees, contractors, and those with access badges.
  • On March 16, the agency ruled the “effects of coronavirus to be an ‘extraordinary situation’” as defined by statute and waived petition fees in certain situations for customers impacted by the coronavirus.
  • On March 19, the USPTO waived the statutory requirement for an original handwritten signature for certain correspondence and certain payments by credit card.

United States Copyright Office

  • All Library of Congress buildings, including the U.S. Copyright Office, are closed to the public until Wednesday, April 1, 2020.
  • The office continues to operate through https://www.copyright.gov/ for online registration, searching copyright-related records, and learning about copyright topics.
  • The office continues to receive registration applications and recorded documents sent by U.S. mail but not by personal courier.

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

  • The World Intellectual Property Organization is continuing operations under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks, the Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs, the Lisbon System for the International Registration of Geographical Indications as well as administering other intellectual property and related systems.
  • WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center also is continuing its important work in processing domain name disputes under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy and other alternative dispute resolution cases.
  • In accordance with public health authorities’ guidance to curb the spread of coronavirus, WIPO 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 its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO)

  • The Executive Director of the EUIPO has extended all time limits expiring between March 9, 2020 and April 30, 2020, to May 1, 2020. Since May 1 is a public holiday, the effective deadline is Monday, May 4.

European Patent Office (EPO)

  • The EPO has extended all deadlines for patent matters until April 17, 2020. The extension also applies to international applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty.

Italian Patent and Trademark Office

UK Intellectual Property Office

  • In a statement issued March 19, the office said its services are “mainly unaffected” and that most staff are working from home “to avoid unnecessary travel and social contact.” Its sites remained open for “essential work that can only be undertaken on site.”
  • The office noted that it is still able to process fees, paper forms, faxes and paper correspondence but strongly requested that customers use the online service whenever possible.
  • For services that are not available online, the office created an email address, paperformcontingency@ipo.gov.uk which can be used instead of faxing or posting documents.
  • Hearings will be held by telephone, video conference or other virtual means. No in-person hearings will be booked or take place until at least June 1, 2020.

If you have questions about how the outbreak of coronavirus might affect your intellectual property, please contact me or another one of the IP attorneys at Panitch Schwarze.

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