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Major European IP offices and COVID-19 Reaction

23 June 2020

The major IP offices that we deal with have reacted to the COVID-19 outbreak in various ways as follows:

European Patent Office: The EPO has published a dedicated webpage tracking their response to COVID-19 disruption. Their earlier blanket extension provision has been lifted, and from 2 June 2020, extensions to deadlines, and forgiveness for missed deadlines, are available in a limited form on a case-by-case basis. Oral proceedings are routinely being postponed or rescheduled as videoconferences. The penalty fee for late payment of a missed renewal fee has been temporarily waived between 1 June to 31 August 2020 (inclusive). Consequently, any renewal fee falling due on or after 15 March 2020 can be validly paid until 31 August 2020 with no additional fee.

EU Intellectual Property Office: On 18 May 2020, the blanket COVID-19 extension came to an end. The latest EUIPO updates may be found here. Extensions to deadlines, and forgiveness for missed deadlines, are available in a limited form on a case-by-case basis.

UK Intellectual Property Office: The UKIPO announced on 22 June 2020 that it will bring its interrupted days provision to an end on 29 July 2020. Essentially this means that all deadlines falling due from 24 March 2020 to 29 July 2020 will expire on 30 July 2020. After that, normal rules apply. Details can be found at the UKIPO website here.

German Patent and Trademark Office: The DPMA blanket extension ended on 4 May 2020.

French Intellectual Property Office: The INPI has now issued its guidance on the Ordonnance relating to the extension of deadlines in France. In essence, all deadlines occurring in the period between 12 March and 23 June 2020 inclusive are postponed to 23 July 2020 if the initial time limit was one month and to 23 August 2020 if the initial time limit was two months or more. This order applies to all deadlines provided for by the French Intellectual Property Code, except those resulting from international agreements or European texts. We understand that this will not affect other deadlines set in supra-national law, like priority periods, deadlines for translations, validation periods, the period for filing an SPC etc.

World Intellectual Property Office: WIPO deadlines, excluding priority deadlines, are normally extensible on a discretionary basis. WIPO administers patents via the PCT system, designs via the Hague system, and trade marks via the Madrid system. No firm guidance has yet been communicated from WIPO on how their discretion will be applied.

In addition, WIPO has released a COVID-19 Policy Tracker that provides information on measures adopted by contracting IP offices in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We will continue to send clients individual emails on existing affected cases.

As you may imagine, it will be important not to rely completely on any blanket office extensions, or on discretionary extensions where available, and we ask that you endeavour to provide your instructions as soon as feasible and well before any blanket cut-off date, circumstances allowing. We are continuing to docket and work to original deadlines, and recommend that you use normal fee-free extensions where available. These measures together should ensure a smooth processing of all cases.

As usual, please contact your usual Withers & Rogers attorney to discuss this further as needed.

Withers & Rogers is operating on a business as usual basis. We are all working remotely and do not anticipate any notable change in service to our clients.