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How Patent Offices Outside the United States Are Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic



It has been more than two weeks since the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued a formal response to the COVID-19 pandemic announcing that certain petition fees could be waived for patent applicants who are personally impacted by the novel coronavirus. We previously discussed this on our blog. Since then, patent offices around the world have begun enacting various exceptions and special allowances in view of the evolving global health crisis.

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) recently announced that any deadlines for patent, industrial design, and trademark matters that fall between March 16 and April 30, 2020 are automatically extended to May 1st, 2020, which date may be further extended. Online services remain available but several regional offices are no longer receiving CIPO correspondence until further notice.

The European Patent Office (EPO) recently decided to automatically extend all deadlines this year that fall on or after March 15 through to April 17. The EPO may decide to further extend this date depending on how the pandemic evolves as the April 17th date approaches. Notably, the extension applies to the payment of renewal fees and other fees. Also, the EPO has postponed all oral proceedings in examination and opposition proceedings scheduled through April 17. Oral proceedings before the Boards of Appeal have not been explicitly postponed but are not to be held on the premises until April 17 or after.

The United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) has declared an ‘interrupted days’ period that began on March 24, 2020. This means that all deadlines on and after March 24 for patents, trademarks, and designs are postponed until the UKIPO announces an end to the interrupted days period. The UKIPO has pledged to provide a minimum of two weeks’ notice before ending the interrupted days period and will review the situation on April 17, at which time the office will decide whether to end or continue the interrupted days period.

The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) announced today that certain deadlines through April 29, 2020 are automatically extended to April 30 to accommodate applicants who may experience difficulty in meeting the original deadlines. However, this extension is not applicable to certain statutory deadlines, such as the 31-month time limit for a PCT national phase entry in Korea.

The Taiwan Intellectual Property Office (TIPO) will allow an applicant to file a request for reinstatement of a patent application if the applicant’s failure to comply within a statutory time period was due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The applicant may need to provide proof of personal impact with the request for reinstatement, and such cases may be determined on a case-by-case basis.

The India Ministry of Home Affairs issued an order on March 25, 2020 closing all intellectual property offices in the country. The offices are to remain closed until at least April 15, 2020.  Any patent-related due dates that fall between March 25 and April 15 are extended until the offices reopen.  The Supreme Court of India may provide a specified period of time for filings beginning with the reopening date of the offices to prevent or alleviate the expected massive influx of filings on that date.

While certain other patent offices, such as the Japan Patent Office (JPO), do not currently provide any leniencies in view of the COVID-19 crisis, such offices will likely decide to do so if their government declares a state of national emergency.

The information above is intended to be a representative – not exhaustive – look as to how other patent offices are addressing the current COVID-19 crisis.  Further, as with every area affected by the pandemic, decisions are constantly evolving.  The patent attorneys at Miller Nash Graham & Dunn LLP work regularly with patent attorneys throughout the globe.  If you have any questions about patents in other countries, especially during this uniquely challenging time, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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