22 Oct
2020

Live updates: IP offices implement measures in wake of coronavirus crisis

(This article is being updated – all new information is below. Press Ctrl+F to look for specific IP office updates. Contact us if there are any updates that should be added)

Update: 22 October 2020

  • The German IP Office (DPMA) has announced that, as of 19 October 2020, it will not be scheduling hearings or oral proceedings in IP procedures in view of rising covid-19 cases. However, any hearings or oral proceedings in which summons have already been sent will take place if all parties agree to continue. For those that do go ahead, the DPMA clarify that any visitors "with acute respiratory symptoms" will not be able to enter the building.
  • The Japan Patent Office (JPO) has confirmed that an employee at one of its office buildings recently tested positive with coronavirus. According to the JPO, the employee originally had a fever on 22 September 2020, their last work day was on 29 September, and the infection was subsequently confirmed on 6 October.

 

Update: 16 October 2020

  • The Latvian IP Office (LRPV) has confirmed that, from 12 October 2020, it will only accept physical customer service if a prior appointment has been booked. An appointment can be booked by phone or email, with the registry stating that "customers will not be served without prior appointment" and must "use face masks, keep a distance of 2 meters, disinfect your hands, observe respiratory hygiene and other conditions for your own and others' safety". The move follows a rise of covid-19 in the country, with users urged to submit applications online.
  • The Cuban IP Office (OCPI) has announced that all "services and procedures" have resumed at the office after a period of emergency measures. The moved follows the passing of  Resolution Number 1463 on 12 October 2020.
  • The Czech Republic IP Office (UPV) has laid out its rules of operation following the adoption of crisis measures. The rules, which will be followed from 12 October until 25 October 2020, include users being urged to conduct all IP procedures online. Furthermore, it means that the registry's physical premises is only open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9am until 2pm, with any visitors required to wear a face-mask. 

 

Update: 8 October 2020

  • The Sri Lanka IP Office (NIPO) has informed users that, due to a renewed spread of covid-19 around the country, it has re-introduced restrictions around intellectual property activities. From 7 October 2020, the NIPO confirmed that it will only accept payments either via an online or through bank deposits. Furthermore, all payments should only be made on weekdays before 3pm; any payments made after that time will be made on the next business day and the necessary arrangements (including document number) will be made then. All payments should be made on the same day of an application being loodged, with bopth the application and payment proof needing to be sent via email before 4pm ('[email protected]'). In closing, the NIPO's director general, Geetanjali Ranawaka, stated: "We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you due to the current situation in the country and appreciate your support in taking this initiative to provide you with our service under this scheme."
  • The Australian IP Office has reiterated to users that its "streamlined process" for extension of time requests is now available. Since 22 April 2020, the registry has allowed customers impacted by covid-19 to submit a request for extension of time for various IP procedures. Such an extension is free-of-charge and can be for up to three months. These arrangements will be available until at least 31 October 2020. 

 

Update: 1 October 2020

  • The Oman IP Office has confirmed that all deadlines for IP actions that have been due since 24 March 2020 are extended until 8 October 2020. The move means that any penalties for late renewals or submissions are removed until that date, although it is understand they are set to be reinstated from 9 October 2020. 
  • The Chilean IP Office (INAPI) has revealed that, despite restrictions caused by the ongoing pandemic, trademark applications at the office rose by 62% in August 2020 compared to the year before. In total, 7,422 applications were filed in August 2020, a stark rise on the 4,593 applications filed at INAPI in August 2019. According to INAPI director Loreto Bresky, the increase was due to the registry's advanced online tools: "On the one hand, we have 100% online processing, which has made it easier for our users to carry out the process remotely and in simple steps. Added to this is the importance that entrepreneurs have assigned to the protection of their brands, because they have understood that it is a tool that allows them to reveal their differentiating attributes and protect themselves from unfair competition."

 

Update: 24 September 2020

  • The EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has posted a video featuring executive director Christian Archambeau explaining the current situation at the registry. In it, he confirms that staff returned to the EUIPO's Alicante headquarters three weeks ago after almost six months of teleworking. "The return is going smoothly, with strict safety precautions being observed by all staff, and we are continuing to take a flexible approach to teleworking for those who need it," he explained. "Thanks to the advanced systems for mobile working with which the office is equipped, we have been able to operate well throughout the current crisis, but it is good to be back together." In terms of working, he confirms that there was a "big drop" in filing demand early into the crisis, "but that has now been reversed" – although added that, when it comes to the future, "the picture remains mixed". Overall, he says that the office  expects "to have around 5% more EU trademark applications this year". 
  • The Argentinian IP Office has again extended deadlines for all procedures until at least 11 October 2020. 
  • The Slovenian IP Office has confirmed that, from 23 September 2020, protective masks and disinfection of hands is now mandatory to enter the registry's premises. Furthermore, a maximum of two users can enter the entrance hall, with others required to wait in front of the building. 
  • The Austrian IP Office (Patentamt) has updated users on its coronavirus procedures. The registry confirms that its customer center is open every weekday from 9am until 12pm, with the building "set up in such a way that the necessary distance is maintained and, where necessary, we have also set up Plexiglass protective walls". Furthermore, all staff and users are required to wear face masks if they attend a consultation. On a positive note, the registry confirmed that it will be continuing its IP Academy seminars. "What began as a Corona measure has since become a well-accepted alternative to the previous classroom seminar," a Patentamt representative said. "We are therefore sticking with it: you can continue to learn everything about brands, patents and designs from your (home) office in a convenient and time-saving way."

 

Update: 18 September 2020

  • The Argentinian IP Office has extended the postponements of all IP deadlines until at least 20 September 2020. The move was previously set to 31 August 2020 follows a rise of covid-19 cases in Argentina, and according to local law firm O'Conor & Power, "it is for certain that the suspension of official deadlines shall be extended after said date".
  • The Czech Republic IP Office has re-introduced extraordinary measures related to the health crisis from 10 September 2020. Specifically, the registry has confirmed it prefers any contact with employees to be done via telephone, fax or email, although the office's building remains open (with appointments strongly recommended). However, for in-person visits, users must "use respiratory protective equipment (nose, mouth) such as a respirator, face mask, scarf or other means of preventing the spread of droplets".

 

Update: 9 September 2020

  • The German IP Office (DPMA) has confirmed that it "remains closed for the public until further notice" due to a growth in coronavirus cases in the country. The development primarily affects the agency's cash desk, document-receiving, and customer service.  In response, the DPMA says "apart from a few exceptions, as this prevents us from having face-to-face contact with our customers, the DPMA is almost fully able to carry out its operations".  In concluding its update, the registry said it will announce a re-opening of the office "in time". 
  • The South African IP Office (CIPC) has written a public letter to users about how the country's load-shedding situation has affected its work. It states that coronavirus has seen the agency "find new ways to work", with many staff working from home, and that the load-shedding - wherein electricity outages have occurred in South Africa - has "affected the ability of CIPC to reach all service turnaround times". Therefore, it requests "patient and understanding" in the current conditions for users needing certain IP-related services.

 

Update: 3 September 2020

  • The Indian IP Office has confirmed it will be resuming trademark hearings via video-conferencing. The registry suspended all show-cause hearings for trademark applications back in March, but will now resume hearings in cases 'pending for acceptance'. For interested parties, the agency "is seeking the consent of the applicant or their authorised agent by 5 September 2020". To do so, a dedicated email address has been created ([email protected]). According to Manisha Singh, partner at LexOrbis, the move is a positive one: "This is much welcome step by the TMO which will ease off the pendency figures of the pre-acceptance cases, expedite the disposal rate and bring much relief to the stakeholders."
  • The Hong Kong IP Office has issued yet another update about the continuation of its 'special work arrangements'. This time, it confirmed it will continue until at least 6 September 2020.
  • The Korean IP Office (KIPO) has announced, from September 2020, a temporary reduction in the interest rate for loans under the IP deduction. The agency states that "in the case of IP cost loans applied by subscribing companies, an interest rate of 1.25%, a 0.5% cut compared to the previous one, and a 1.0% reduction, 2.25%, for a management fund loan, are applied for one year". 
  • The Venezuelan IP Office (SAPI) has revealed that during the country's 'state of alarm degree' triggered by the coronavirus crisis, the agency has registered 883 trademarks in total. Of those marks, 577 are from national applicants, while 306 are applications from abroad. 

 

Update: 26 August 2020

  • The Russian IP Office (Rospatent) has published an interview with the head of the registry, Grigory Ivliev, on how the office has handled the covid-19 pandemic. On how coronavirus affected the field of IP in Russia, Ivliev said: "The most unpleasant consequence of the pandemic for us was the decline in inventive activity. The introduction of anti-pandemic measures has led to a decrease in the number of applications not only from Russian, but also from foreign applicants. The situation is now improving." He further revealed that around 1,500 trademark applications have been "postponed" due to the pandemic, and that the current average time examination time of a trademark at Rospatent is "about six months". 
  • The Hong Kong IP Office has issued another update confirming the continuation of its 'special work arrangements' until at least 30 August 2020. The move is similar to the 13 August 2020 announcement (see below), with the registry confirming it is "keeping the situation under close review".

 

Update: 19 August 2020

  • The Chilean IP Office (INAPI) has announced a new system that will allow face-to-face processing of exceptional cases, upon request by telephone. While continuing to operate most services remotely, the office states that a number of procedures can now be carried out in its office, under strict security measures. These include the delivery of priority certificates and sworn statements without an electronic signature, and applications for appellation of origins, geographical indications, certification marks and collective trademarks. Those seeking face-to-face services will be allocated slots between Monday and Thursday according to availability.
  • The Australian IP Office has issued new exemptions from certain extension of time fees for patents, trademarks and designs. These documents provide that fees will not apply to some extensions of time during the COVID-19 pandemic requested in the period 1 September to 30 September 2020. 

 

Update: 13 August 2020

  • The Hong Kong IP Office has confirmed the continuation of its 'special work arrangements' until at least 23 August 2020. The announcement means that the public service counter will remain closed, with the agency recommending users to take advantage of its e-services or send documents by post. On top of that, the registry confirmed that "other operations" related to trademarks and designs will "continue to be affected", and concluded by saying: "We are minded to lift the interruption of operations arrangement as soon as circumstances permit. We will keep the situation under close review."

 

Update: 6 August 2020

  • The Canadian IP Office (CIPO) has announced its final extension of designated days, with the agency confirming that any deadlines falling between 16 March and 21 August 2020 are automatically extended until 24 August 2020. According to law firm Gowling, "this is the ninth such extension announced by CIPO as part of its precautionary measures against covid-19 and CIPO has advised that this will be the last such extension". 

 

Update: 5 August 2020

  • The Brazilian IP Office (INPI) has informed users that it has postponed face-to-face work until at least September due to the "evolution of the fight against covid-19". The return of face-to-face services with users was supposed to resume this month, but the postponement decision was made "following the local government's reopening schedules". 
  • The Venezuelan IP Office (SAPI) has released an update on its operations over the past few months, claiming that it has "responded to 90% of requests in the first half of the year". Expanding on that, the agency explained how, since April, it activated a 'Virtual Attention Box Office' to "maintain continuity during the radical quarantine", which included a newly-created email address for users to make queries regarding the registration of trademarks, patents and copyright. In all, 4,920 people have so far used that service, with the agency claiming it has "strengthened its remote communication channels" during the current crisis.

 

Update: 30 July 2020

  • The UK IP Office (UKIPO) has sent a reminder to users that its period of so-called 'interrupted days', originally declared on 24 March, has now ended. In the email, it noted that to support businesses, the UKIPO has made "temporary changes" to its registration fees from 30 July 2020 until 31 March 2021 in relation to patents, supplementary protection certificates (SPCs) trademarks and registered designs (see below for more details).
  • The Brazilian IP Office (INPI) has informed users that it will not be providing paper documents during the ongoing pandemic. The registry states that, going forward, any official copies of documents requested during the covid-19 crisis will be made available "temporarily in electronic format". Therefore, paper copies will return "when the institute's face-to-face activities return to normal". 
  • The Benelux IP Office (BOIP) has issued an update on its ongoing operations. It confirmed that, to avoid further spread of coronavirus, employees are "working in part in the office and in part at home". In terms of user services, the BOIP notes: "Would you like to visit BOIP? That can be arranged, but to avoid risks, we request that you only visit if absolutely necessary. To do so, you must make an appointment in advance. Our online services are operating completely as usual and our Information Centre is available during office hours to answer your questions by email and phone."
  • The Belarus IP Office (NCIP) has updated users on its services in response to the ongoing pandemic. It noted that the work of its consultation center is temporarily transferred to remove mode (by phone), while most administrative procedures are now available via phone correspondence. 
  • The Zambia IP Office (PACRA) has confirmed it has recorded one case of covid-19 at its head office in capital city Lusaka. In response, the registry states that it will "continue to operate within strict public health guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health". For that reason, it urges users to access services through the registry's website or call centre. 
  • The Finland IP Office (PRH) has re-iterated the planned re-opening of its customer service in Helsinki from 3 August 2020. The current plan is to open on weekdays from 12pm until 4.15pm, although users are urged to use the agency's online services instead. 

 

Update: 20 July 2020

  • The UK IP Office (UKIPO) has introduced some temporary fee changes to customers impacted by the economic effects from the covid-19 crisis. From 30 July 2020, fees for extensions of time will be zero, while the surcharge for late payment of renewal fees will be just £1. The full fee changes are outlined on the UKIPO website, and they will be in place until at least 31 March 2021.
  • The New Zealand IP Office (IPONZ) will no longer provide automatic extensions for cases and tasks for any due dates that fall after 31 July 2020. Nonetheless, the IPONZ will continue to accept requests for extensions of time for a case-by-case basis (with the registry specifically recommending users give specific details if the extensions is due to covid-19).
  • The Hong Kong IP Office has confirmed that, from 20 July until 26 July 2020, its public service counter will be closed, with users urged to use the registry's online or phone services instead. 

 

Update: 16 July 2020

  • The Kuwait IP Office has resumed operations following a period of closure due to the coronavirus crisis. According to law firm NJQ & Associations, the registry's website has been "partially activated" to be able to accept new submissions for trademark applications and trademark publication requests. However, all other trademarks transactions – including the payment of registration fees, recordals, and oppositions – must be done by appointment only at the registry's premise.

 

Update: 14 July 2020

  • The Indian IP Office (CGPDTM) has clarified its position regarding the suspension of deadlines during the covid-19 crisis. According to law firm Remfry & Sagar, the registry has been challenged in court by the Intellectual Property Attorneys Association (IPAA) over its handling of extensions. The Delhi High Court recently "came down harshly" on the registry, and "expressed displeasure" at the CGPDTM "disregarding" recent rulings, and "re-iterated that no court, tribunal or authority could impose timelines on the limitation period, even if prescribed under a special statute, in violation of an apex court ruling". Therefore, all deadlines at the Indian registry are extended until further notice. 
  • The Mexican IP Office (IMPI) has re-opened its doors following a period of closure to protect employees and customers. Since 6 July 2020, the IMPI restarted activities, a move that occurred a week before the resumption of deadlines (in order to reduce crowds). Crucially, though, the IMPI confirmed that all procedures at the office can now be conducted online rather than needing to attend the physical premises. 

 

Update: 6 July 2020

  • The Brazilian IP Office (INPI) has announced the extension of teleworking until at least 16 August 2020. The move, due to ongoing measures to prevent to prevent infection and the spread of covid-19, could change according to weekly infection reports in Rio de Janeiro. However, from 6 July 2020, staff members can optionally travel to the INPI headquarters to "re-adapt to face-to-face work". 
  • The Peruvian IP Office (Indepcopi) has extended face-to-face services at its headquarters following a restricted re-opening on 17 June 2020. From last week, the Indecopi premises is open to the public from Monday until Friday from 10am to 1pm, with a reduced capacity of 30%. In addition, the use of masks is required, gel alcohol will be provided, users' footwear will be disinfected, and the temperature of users will be measures with infrared thermometers. 
  • The Dominican Republic IP Office (ONAPI) has announced measures following the lifting of the state of emergency in the Caribbean country. From today (July 6), the registry confirmed that deadlines that were previously suspended will now resume. Along with the resumption of deadlines, ONAPI further confirmed that many services offered digitally will not be provided in-person for the time being, including trademark filing and renewals. For services that are available at the ONAPI premises, an appointment is required (available with a request by email: '[email protected]'). 
  • The Finland IP Office (PRH) has confirmed the re-opening of its Helsinki office from 3 August 2020. The registry's customer service will be open from 12pm until 4.15pm on weekdays from that date, will self-service computers no longer in use. 

 

Update: 2 July 2020

  • The UK IP Office (UKIPO) has informed users that, in light of 'interrupted days' ending on 29 July 2020 (see below), it will introduce a temporary reduction on certain trademark, design, and patent fees. Specifically, the UKIPO announced that fees for extensions of time will be zero, fees to apply for reinstatement and restoration will be zero, there will be zero surcharge for late patent of a renewal fee on patents and designs, and a £1 surcharge for payment of late renewal fees on trademarks. These fees changes will be in place from 30 July 2020 until 31 March 2021.
  • The Canadian IP Office (CIPO) has announced a further extension to deadlines, and confirmed that further extensions may be granted in the future. Specifically, CIPO has automatically extended all deadlines falling between 16 March and 19 July 2020 until 20 July 2020.

 

Update: 29 June 2020

  • The Paraguay IP Office (DINAPI) has established new procedures in regards to in-person attendance at its offices. From last week, face-to-face services were resumed in cases that cannot be processed via email. The registry has set-up a serious of 'shifts' that can be booked 24 hours in advance. When it comes to brand management, these shifts are scheduled on Wednesdays and Fridays from 8am until 11am. Turning to trademark examination and renewal, the shifts are available on Tuesday and Thursday from 8am until 11am. 
  • The Slovakian IP Office has extended the working hours of its information center due to improvements seen in the covid-19 outbreak in the country. From 26 June 2020, the premises will be open from 9am every weekday, and closing at 4pm on most days.

 

Update: 22 June 2020

  • The UK IP Office (UKIPO) has announced it will be bringing its 'interrupted days period will be ending on 29 July 2020. The move means that the first "normal day of operation" at the UKIPO will be when all interrupted day deadlines expire from 30 July 2020. Commented on the end of this period, the UKIPO's CEO Tim Moss said: "We recognise that our customers will be facing challenges for some time to come and will naturally look to us to provide flexibility and support. Five weeks’ notice before ending ‘interrupted days’ is one of the practical measures we are implementing. It will give businesses time to plan and help them to maintain their valuable IP.”
  • The Australian IP Office has confirmed the amendment of the country's Plant Breeder’s Rights Regulations 1994 and the Trade Marks Regulations 1995 to provide "new exemption powers for IP Australia to exercise greater discretion and flexibility to exempt specified classes of persons from fees where appropriate". The amendments were implemented on 12 June 2020.
  • The El Salvador IP Office (CNR) has re-opened its premises to the public nationwide, the registry has confirmed in a statement.
  • The Montenegro IP Office (ZISCG) has outlined its re-opening plan, confirming that from 22 June 2020 it will begin receiving clients at its headquarters. The move means that the ZISCG's mode of operation, which required all submissions to be sent in electronically or by mail, has ceased. 

 

Update: 16 June 2020

  • The Latvian IP Office (LRPV) has confirmed the resumption of on-site customer service. From 10 June, the LRPV's premises opened to clients and visitors, with various precautionary measures introduced to ensure safety. However, the office also urges users to apply for trademark (or design) rights in advance (online or by email) rather than in-person. "We urge every visitor to be responsible and to follow the established epidemiological measures to limit the spread of covid-19," the registry concludes. 
  • The Ecuador IP Office (SENADI) has announced on Facebook that staff will "soon be returning to our offices", indicating that public services will soon be resuming. In the post, SEDADI confirmed that, when re-opened, all visitors must wear a face mask and that it will only be allowing 50% capacity at all times. 
  • The Paraguay IP Office (DINAPI) has extended the suspension of all deadlines for IP procedures until 30 June 2020. Full details are available in a letter to users (in Spanish). 

 

Update: 12 June 2020

  • The EUIPO has released a video featuring executive director Christian Archambeau giving an update on the current situation at the registry. In it, he confirms that approximately 70 volunteers have entered the EUIPO's Alicante premises as part of the first phase of the office's return plan. All other staff continue to work with telework. Furthermore, he revealed that, after the end of the extension period last week, the last of the 21,000 delayed EU trademarks were published earlier this week. He added that the 4,800 international registrations affected due to the covid-19 outbreak will be published "by the end of the month". 
  • The Canadian IP Office (CIPO) has confirmed another automatic extension of deadlines until 6 July 2020. The move means that any deadlines related to trademarks, industrial designs and patents falling between 16 March and 3 July 2020 will now be extended until 6 July 2020.

 

Update: 9 June 2020

  • The Irish IP Office (IPOI) has confirmed the end of its 'excluding days' from 2 June 2020. The move means that proceedings occurring between 13 March and 2 June 2020 are deemed to be 'excluded days' for purposes under the IP acts and rules of Ireland. However, from 3 June, "it will be lawful to do any act or thing which fell on a day which was an excluded day". Therefore, "all users, rights holders, businesses and IP professionals are therefore asked to continue working to existing deadlines and payment due dates and to ensure that any matters with deadlines which were left in abeyance during the 'excluded days' period are attended to immediately". For any users still affected by covid-19, the registry adds that extensions of time are still possible on a case-by-case basis. For now, the IPOI premises remains closed to the public, with staff continuing to work remotely.
  • The Syrian IP Office re-opened to the public from 1 June 2020. It follows a previous announcement that the registry had suspended all operations, with any deadlines automatically extended to the first working day that the office reopens. 

 

Update: 8 June 2020

  • The EUIPO has accelerated work on its e-communications platform following reports of difficulties that customers are having when working from home. Going forward, the 'Reply' button is now available for all e-communications where a reply is permitted. Furthermore, a 'fax alternative' option has also been added. 
  • The Peru IP Office (Indecopi) has updated users on the correct procedure to email the office during the health emergency. Specifically, users that are sending administrative communications to Indecopi must authorise the forwarding of all notifications to a specific email address, and provide a document that proves representation in the case of a legal entity or attorney. 
  • The Georgia IP Office (Sakpatenti) has announced the re-opening of its reception center, meaning applicants can now submit applications in-person. The office has been equipped with glass-dividing constructions, handheld antibacterial solutions, and will provide thermal screening procedures for employees and customers. 
  • The Sudan IP Office has extended all deadlines until the first working day after 21 June 2020. Until that date, all operations at the Sudan registry are suspended.

 

Update: 3 June 2020

  • The USPTO has launched a 'Covid-19 Response Resource Center' to assist stakeholders with the coronavirus-related initiatives and programs the registry has released in recent weeks. The platform allows convenient access to information on trademark counterfeiting, consumer fraud, and international developments related to the covid-19 outbreak. "The USPTO stands shoulder-to-shoulder with inventors and entrepreneurs and is working on a variety of measures to incentivise, protect, and disseminate covid-19 related innovation," explained USPTO director Andrei Iancu. "The Covid-19 Response Resource Center will provide inventors, entrepreneurs, and IP practitioners with a centralised destination to access information and assistance needed to meet the challenges of these times." In response, trademark attorney Erik Pelton said it was a "good effort" but called for the USPTO to "add warnings about the traditional trademark scammers as well, who continue to send junk offers".
  • The Argentinian IP Office (INPI) has confirmed that users must request face-to-face customer service consultations by email. As part of administrative decision 524/2020, the INPI tells users that they must email the query that would be made during a visit to its premises and to explain the reason why the query could not be conducted via the registry's online portal.
  • The South African IP Office (CIPC) has confirmed that its walk-in centres plan to reopen from 8 June 2020. However, its Cape Town office will remain closed until further notice.
  • The Hungarian IP Office (HIPO) has published new information on the measures it has taken due to the coronavirus. As of 2 June 2020, the registry continues to request users to file applications via its e-services or by post. The office is open for limited hours (weekdays between 10am and 12pm) for filing documents, while in-person consultations can only occur "in exceptional cases and exclusively upon previous appointment". Furthermore, users must wear a face mask if attending the registry's premises. Finally, the HIPO now allows users who started IP proceedings in paper format to change to digital filings. To do so, users should file an 'electronic request' using the registry's using the ‘additional submissions’ electronic form
  • The Estonian IP Office (EPA) has announced that it has re-opened to the public. Consultations are now available, although prior registry is required, while applications (and other proceedings) can be submitted at the EPA's reception). 
  • The Croatian IP Office (DZIV) has returned its physical offices to "regular office hours" following a period of covid-19 disruption. The registry adds, however, that anyone attending the premises must disinfect their hands before entering, wear a protective face mask, and to stand a physical distance of 1.5 meters from anyone else. 
  • The Sint Maarten IP Office (BIP-SXM) has confirmed that it is "currently preparing" its headquarters to ensure that it meets health and safety standards for clients and employees. Therefore, the office remains closed but it appears a re-opening could occur in the near future.

 

Update: 1 June 2020

  • The UK IP Office (UKIPO) has confirmed that it will be continuing with its period of interruption until at least 22 June 2020. The registry acknowledged that the UK government has eased some lockdown restrictions in recent days, meaning some businesses are allowed to resume more normal operations. However, it notes that "there continues to be disruption and impact for many", and so it decided to extend the period in which most deadlines for trademarks, designs and other IP will be extended. The UKIPO urges users, though, to "work to existing deadlines wherever possible" because "interrupted days have been introduced as a safety net where the normal course of business is not possible".

 

Update: 28 May 2020

  • The USPTO has announced further relief for certain trademark-related fees and deadlines. The registry has confirmed that deadlines falling between 27 March and 31 May 2020 are extended until 1 June 2020, although the extensions are reserved only for parties delayed by the covid-19 outbreak. The move follows previous announcements in March and April (which are summarised below). There are further stipulations in the notice too, including that applicants can file a petition to revive applications should they be unable to submit a timely response or fee during this period. It further confirmed that this relief will expire on 31 May 2020.
  • The Philippines IP Office (IPOPHL) has confirmed that its mediation service is set to resume "with renewed vigour".  A new memorandum was signed on 4 May that allows mediation proceedings to be held online in light of the coronavirus crisis, a move that the IPOPHL says "not only contributes to shaping the 'new normal' at the office but also furthers IPOPHL’s digital transformation journey". For anyone interested in taking advantage of online mediation at the IPOPHL, they can file a request by email (contact details are on the website). 

 

Update: 26 May 2020

  • The Canadian IP Office (CIPO) has extended its automatic extensions for the fourth time, this time until at least 1 June 2020. The move means that most IP-related deadlines that fall between 16 March and 31 May 2020 are now extended until that new date. In concluding, a CIPO representative clarified that a further extension of time may occur at a later date.
  • The EUIPO has informed users to expect a significant increase in the number of publication in its bulletin in the coming weeks. An EUIPO representative explained that the office registered "up to 450 EUTMs per day", and that any applications that were not subject to an opposition during the registry's extension period will now be published. Furthermore, the office confirmed that approximately 1,000 letters have been delayed due to coronavirus-related disruption. 
  • The Benelux IP Office (BOIP) has announced its 'business-as-usual' date as 25 May 2020, which will be the end of the period during which deadlines were extended due to the coronavirus outbreak. Previously, all deadlines applying to pending BOIP procedures were extended, including those related to examinations on absolute grounds, trademark renewals, opposition procedures, and cancellation procedures. Going forward, all new deadlines at the BOIP will now apply in the usual way from 25 May 2020. Practically, a representative confirms, "all deadlines (including for payments) that expire or will expire between 16 March and 24 June inclusive will expire on 25 June 2020", and "all deadlines currently running that expire on or after 25 June remain unchanged". 
  • The New Zealand IP Office (IPONZ) has updated users on the cases and prosecution tasks whose deadline can be extended due to covid-19. Specifically, the IPONZ will now provide extensions for responding to provisional refusals and subsequent compliance reports in relation to international trademark registrations designating New Zealand. The registry further confirmed that it will no longer automatically extend deadlines for trademark owners to file counter-statement and evidence in revocation proceedings for non-use of a trademark. However, extensions can be requested if the owner is directly impacted by coronavirus.
  • The Peru IP Office (Indecopi) has confirmed that, due to a new regulation issued by the country's executive power, administrative deadlines for various IP proceedings are now extended until 10 June 2020. The registry further reminded users that they can contact the office by phone and email, and can use its various digital services to perform IP tasks.
  • The Sint Maarten IP Office (BIP SXM) issued a public notice on its status on 21 May 2020, confirming that its office remains closed to the public. However, it clarified that the registry remains available via a temporary phone number and an email address. 

 

Update: 21 May 2020

  • The Indian IP Office has issued a notice confirming that the due date for "all deadlines falling during the lockdown period (15 March until 17 May 2020) are extended until 1 June 2020. According to law firm Remfry & Sagar, the move "effectively grants a buffer period of two weeks to attend to all such matters". All deadlines on or after 18 May 2020 must be met in a timely matter, the firm adds.
  • The Cambodian IP Office has implemented new functions to help users more effectively conduct trademark work during the covid-19 outbreak. Firstly, according to local law firm Abacus IP, it has introduced new tools in its e-filing system to allow most post-registration matters to be conducted online. The updated system can now handle "renewals, affidavits of use, responses to refusals, and changes of agent", although some other matters (including oppositions, invalidations, changes of address and search requests) can only be submitted in paper to the registry. Furthermore, the Cambodian office has also simplified the requirements for affidavits of use or non-use, meaning it is now easier for rights holders to maintain their rights in Cambodia.
  • The Montenegro IP Office has confirmed that, due to the current epidemiological situation, all IP-related requests and submissions must be submitted via email address ('[email protected]') or by post, and clarified that it is no longer allowing public access to its premises until further notice.
  • The Chile IP Office (INAPI) has implemented new functionality on its website platform to allow trademark users to pay appeal fees online. The move, an INAPI representative says, means users can avoid paying the fee in-person.
  • The Dominican Republic IP Office (ONAPI) has written detailed instructions to users on the services that can only be carried out digitally during the coronavirus pandemic. Specifically, the registration and renewal of trademarks (as well as other services such as changing the domicile address on registrations) cannot be performed at ONAPI's headquarters and must be carried out online. For any services that do require face-to-face assistance, the registry states that users must make an appointment the day before and must wear a mask when attending the premises. 
  • The Australian IP Office has launched a free support and assistance services for small to medium Australian businesses affected by the covid-19 outbreak to get information on trademark registration. The registry clarifies that the services "does not guarantee registration of your trade mark and is not a business or legal advice service", but lays out the options available to protect a brand. The helpline features advice directly from trademark examiners, and can be accessed by booking an appointment via email and including information laid out on the IP Australia website.

 

Update: 19 May 2020

  • The French IP Office (INPI) has postponed all deadlines until either 23 July 2020 or 23 August 2020, depending on the case. According to the INPI, a new ordinance means that any IP-related deadline (except those resulting from international agreements or European texts) occurring between 12 March and 23 June 2020 are now postponed until 23 July 2020 if the initial deadline was one month, and until 23 August 2020 if the initial deadline was two months or more. However, the INPI states that, despite the postponement of deadline, users should try and meet current deadlines if they can. "If you are able to do so, we invite you to respond to the notifications as soon as possible or to proceed with your procedures, without waiting for the deadline of this summer, to avoid clogging up the procedures at the end of the period of health emergency," an INPI representative says. "In fact, during confinement, the INPI teams continue to process your requests normally by being teleworked, since the INPI procedures are dematerialised and remain accessible to you at all times."
  • The Irish IP Office (IPOI) has confirmed the extension of its office closure until 2 June 2020. The move means that the registry is closed for transaction business until that date, with all days between 18 May and 2 June being deemed to be "excluded days" for all purposes under the office's acts and rules. While the IPOI's premises is closed to the public, staff continue to work remotely and all of the registry's online and e-services are operating as per normal. 
  • The African Regional IP Office (ARIPO) has informed users that its headquarters will remain closed "until further notice". It follows the government of Zimbabwe extending the national lockdown indefinitely. However, while the registry's physical premises is closed to the public, the ARIPO director general reiterated that "the office remains operational with its staff working from home".
  • The Pakistan IP Office has confirmed the re-opening of some of its premises from 11 May 2020. Specifically, the trademark registry offices in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar are now open for "public dealing and receiving documents", although any enquiries about the status of trademarks will only be given by phone or email. Furthermore, opposition hearings and ex-parte cases are still suspended until further notice.
  • The Taiwan IP (TIPO) has published information on how it is handling patent and trademark applications during the covid-19 outbreak. Specifically,  it outlines how applicants affected by the epidemic can apply for an extension, and stipulating that further extensions can be granted in certain circumstances.

 

Update: 15 May 2020

  • The European Union IP Office (EUIPO) has confirmed that, as of 18 May 2020, the registry's extension period has come to an end. However, the EUIPO acknowledges that some users "may still face difficulties due to the covid-19 outbreak" in meeting deadlines, so various measures are being implemented. For example, users can request extensions that can be granted in certain circumstances. "Difficulties arising from measures taken by public authorities against the pandemic caused by the covid-19 outbreak or instances of sickness of the party or its representative for the same reason do constitute exceptional circumstances that will be considered appropriate by the office for granting second and subsequent extensions of the same time limit," the office clarifies. Users are urged to check the exact stipulations on the EUIPO website, while all extension deadlines are also posted on the registry's website. For those seeking even more information on this change, the EUIPO is hosting a webinar on the subject on 19 May at 11am CEST.

 

Update: 14 May 2020

  • The Icelandic IP Office (ISIPO) is re-opening its reception from 18 May 2020, a representative tells WTR. It closed on 16 March to protect staff and combat the spread of covid-19, and during that time the ISIPO has not been accepting visitors to its premises.
  • The Austrian IP Office (Patentamt) has also confirmed the re-opening of its physical premises from 18 May 2020. From that date, its building on Dresdner Strasse in Vienna will be open from 9am until 12pm, although users are urged to consider using phone or online services instead of visiting. Furthermore, various precautions are being taken, the registry confirmed, including requiring all visitors to wear mouth and nose protection and the addition of a plexiglass wall during consultations.
  • The Malaysian IP Office (MyIPO) has announced the re-opening of four of its branches. From 8 May 2020, the registry's headquarters in Kuala Lumpur and branches in Melaka and Penang re-opened, while the Johor branch re-opened on 10 May. All the branches are currently open on Tuesday and Thursdays from 9.30am until 3pm only, with counters only open for filings (and not advisories). At the moment, MyIPO's Pahang, Sarawak and Sabah branches remain closed. 
  • The Maltese IP Office has confirmed that, due to restrictions pertaining to the coronavirus pandemic, walk-ins to its office are no longer allowed. For that reason, the registry has posted phone numbers and an email address for various trademark procedures. 
  • The UK IP Office (UKIPO) has added more information on how users should email documents instead of posting or faxing them. Specifically, the registry clarified that if a user has more than one form to send, they must be sent them in separate emails with an accompanying fee-sheet if the form is fee-bearing.
  • The Spanish IP Office (OEPM) has posted an online video conference to YouTube on the subject of "continuity of administrative procedures during the state of alarm". The presentation was originally given on 29 April 2020, and focused on practical issues related to deadlines and IP-related procedures that have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The original live broadcast was watched by over 170 IP agents, the registry added.
  • The African IP Office (OAPI) has announced another extension of deadlines on various IP procedures. Specifically, deadlines that fall between 1 May and 31 May 2020 are now extended until 15 July. Furthermore, working hours at OAPI have been reduced from 8.30pm until 1.30pm. (H/T Inventa)
  • The Angolan IP Office has resumed activities following a period of inactivity. For the time being, staff working hours are from 8am until 3pm, with 50% of staff working on a rotational basis. 
  • The New Zealand IP Office (IPONZ) has released detailed information into how IP hearings are being dealt with due to disruption caused by covid-19. A key takeaway is that all proceeding tasks which require the submission of evidence to the IPONZ are being automatically extended. Furthermore, the requirement for evidence to be presented in the form a statutory declaration or affidavit for the determination of a proceeding remains a requirement for proceedings. However, until further notice, the registry's hearings office will accept unsworn evidence in order to meet an evidence deadline in a proceeding.

 

Update: 12 May 2020

  • The UK IP Office (UKIPO) has extended its 'period of interruption' until at least 28 May 2020. The move means that most deadlines for trademarks, designs, patents, and supplementary protection certification are classed as 'interrupted days' and so can be easily extended. However, a UKIPO representative added: "Please continue to work to existing deadlines wherever possible. Interrupted days have been introduced as a safety net where the normal course of business is not possible."
  • The Chilean IP Office (INAPI) has confirmed a further extension of deadlines due to the impact of covid-19. Any IP rights that expire between 1 May and 15 May 2020 are now extended due to Exempt Resolution No 314. The registry added: "Regarding contentious procedures, whose actions must be carried out in that period of time, or whose fatal term expires in that period, will be re-scheduled for the earliest possible date, after the end of the said state of constitutional exception, and the time in which it be extended."
  • The Peru IP Office (INDECOPI) has announced the issuing of a new executive power which means that documents submitted online "no longer need to be presented physically". The move, which will apply until 31 December 2020, is in the framework of Peru's ongoing state of sanitary emergency related to the coronavirus. Previously, documents had to be submitted physically within three days after an electronic submission. Now, documents sent by digital means will have as date of receipt the day that it was sent electronically. There are some exceptions, including identity checks. 
  • The Latvian IP Office (LRPV) has confirmed that it will waive certain fees related to time limits, such as requests for renewals or continuation of proceedings. According LRPV director Sandris Laganovskis: "It is necessary to waive the fee for the relevant services of the Patent Office if the applicant is objectively affected by the restrictions of covid-19. This also applies to rights holders in other countries, when the state of emergency in Latvia will be lifted, but the emergency situations declared in these countries and the adopted restrictions will make it impossible to comply with the set deadlines." 

 

Update: 7 May 2020

  • The Trinidad and Tobago IP Office has announced it is discontinuing the option for making payments via cash at the registry's various offices. The move, made due to the ongoing pandemic, is to encourage users to use the registry's online payment services. However, cash payments can still be made at one specific location (the Treasury Building in Port of Spain), with the registry stating: "Cash payments should be avoided if possible."
  • The Irish IP Office (IPOI) has confirmed the extension of its office closure until at least 18 May 2020. Like previous extensions, all days between 13 March until the proposed re-opening date are deemed to be "excluded days" for all purposes under the IP acts and rules of Ireland. Furthermore, IPOI staff continue to work remotely so continue to maintain all online, e-services and email enquiries (but cannot deal with telephone enquiries). 
  • The Hungarian IP Office (HIPO) has implemented a second extension of certain time limits from pending IP proceedings until 2 June 2020. 

 

Update: 6 May 2020

  • The French IP Office (INPI) has penned another update on its services beyond 11 May 2020. From that date until at least 2 June 2020, the INPI's physical offices will be closed to the public, with registry staff working from home during that time. Furthermore, it is understood that the extension of time limits is now until 2 June, with postponements concerning deadlines for matters including oppositions and the lodging of administrative or jurisdictional appeals. Furthermore, all previously scheduled training is now suspended (although the INPI will provide clients with webinars to continue training exercises), while official copies of documents are only provided in PDF format (with authentication by electronic signature) until 2 June. 
  • The African Regional IP Office (ARIPO) has confirmed that its headquarters will remain closed to the public until further notice. It follows the government of Zimbabwe extending the countrywide lockdown until at least 17 May 2020. The director of ARIPO stated, however, that ARIPO "remains operational with staff working from home" and strongly advised users to use the registry's online services to file applications and make payments.
  • The Ethiopian IP Office (EIPO) has re-opened and confirmed that all deadlines are extended until 19 July 2020. 
  • The Tunisian IP Office (INNORPI) has informed users that it has resumed activity despite the country's ongoing nationwide lockdown. From this week, 50% of the registry's central and regional employees have returned to work at the INNORPI headquarters from 8.30am until 1.30pm on weekdays. Unsurprisingly, clients are urged to "respect hygiene and prevention measures" if they need to visit the office during this time period.

 

Update: 4 May 2020

  • The Indian IP Office (CGPDTM) has announced a further extension on deadlines related to the country's nationwide lockdown. For cases with deadlines falling between 25 March and 17 May 2020, the new deadline has been extended until 18 May 2020. The move is for all timelines prescribed under India's IP Acts and Rules, including the filing of any document and payment of fees. According to local law firm Chadha & Chadha, the move was spurred because all of the IP offices in India are located in 'Red Zones' (or 'Hotspots').
  • The German IP Office (DPMA) has contacted WTR with information on the measures it has taken to help users during the coronavirus outbreak. "Despite all restrictions, the DPMA is fully able to work," a representative confirmed. "All staff are doing their best to accommodate requests and to provide our services as is usually the case. In the past weeks, we have found out that we are able to respond to such an extraordinary crisis quickly and adequately." The DPMA spokesperson confirmed that, to date, more than 1,000 staff are working from home, with the registry's digital services meaning staff can access documents and conduct IP procedures electronically. A key area of delay is any paper-based mail and fax copies sent to the DPMA, with the representative confirming "our staff will, for the time being, not be able to process without delays because the presence of our staff at the office is reduced". Finally, hearings and oral proceedings will not be issued until 30 June 2020, with any currently scheduled hearings or oral proceedings now cancelled ex officio.
  • The Afghanistan IP Office has suspended all operations until 9 May 2020, with deadlines extended until that date.
  • The Lebanon IP Office is partially operational, especially with priority cases with deadlines, renewals and annuities. To date, no deadline extensions have been announced. (H/T JAH & Co)

 

Update: 1 May 2020

  • The Japan IP Office (JPO) has released updated information on designated and statutory time limits in relation to the covid-19 outbreak. The post includes detailed information on how to apply for extensions or responding to refusals for various procedures. In a separate post, the JPO explains the flexible approach it taking for procedures negatively affected by the coronavirus. 
  • The Estonian IP Office (Patendiamet) has confirmed that it is continuing to work in an emergency situation until at least 17 May 2020. The emergency stipulation means that the registry is closed to the public (so procedures must take place by email, phone or via e-channels) and all public events are postponed "until the end of the emergency". 
  • The Ugandan IP Office has released a letter (link to PDF) confirming that it has reduced staff interaction with the public. Therefore, the letter includes email addresses that should be used for users that require assistance on IP matters.

 

Update: 30 April 2020

  • The EUIPO has extended deadlines for time limits on procedural deadlines that occur between 1 May 2020 and 17 May 2020. The extension is until 18 May 2020, and follows the exceptional circumstances caused by the ongoing pandemic. Furthermore, executive director Christian Archambeau has also posted a video update on the current situation at the EUIPO. In it, he gives further details on the timelimit extension and revealed that office output remains "at normal levels".
  • The Australian IP Office (IP Australia) has launched a streamlined process for extension of time requests for various IP matters. Any users impacted by covid-19 can now submit a request from IP Australia's eServices platform, with no additional written explanation required. An extension of "up to three months" is now available and is free of charge (with the usual fee waived automatically). This arrangement is in place until at least 31 May 2020. 

 

Update: 29 April 2020

  • The USPTO has confirmed the extension of "certain patent and trademark deadlines" until 1 June 2020. The move is in accordance with the temporary authority provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) signed by President Donald Trump on March 27. Therefore, patent and trademark-related documents (and payment requirements) due between 27 March and 31 May are now suspended until 1 June 2020.

 

Update: 28 April 2020

  • The Canadian IP Office (CIPO) has confirmed that it has extended deadlines for patent, trademark and industrial designs in light of the ongoing covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, deadlines up to 15 May are now extended until 19 May 2020.  The CIPO further urged users to take advantage of its online services rather than use the physical office locations. 
  • The Singapore IP Office (IPOS) has informed WTR that it is extending all IP filing deadlines until at least 5 June 2020. This measure applies for deadlines that fall between 7 April and 4 June 2020, and also applies to cases under the Hearings and Mediation Department. More information about the extension is found on the IPOS website.
  • The Honduras IP Office has announced that, from April 27, it will be "partially functioning" for new trademark applications filed electronically. The move follows measures by the Honduras government that include a general nationwide lockdown until at least 3 May 2020. 

 

Update: 27 April 2020

  • The Irish IP Office (IPOI) has confirmed that its office closure has been extended until 5 May 2020 following public health concerns from the covid-19 outbreak. Therefore, the office is closed "for transaction business with the public" until that day, with any IP-related dates falling between 13 March and 5 May 2020 deemed to be "excluded days" for all purposes under the IP acts and rules of Ireland. 

 

Update: 24 April 2020

  • The Chilean IP Office (INAPI) has sent a PDF file to WTR contained detailed information on the measures it has taken as a consequence of the covid-19 health emergency. As part of the information, the registry pledged to be 100% operational via its online services, while confirming that its face-to-face assistance has been suspended and various deadlines have been extended for administrative proceedings. 

 

Update: 23 April 2020

  • The Moldovan IP Office (AGEPI) has updated users on the suspension of time limits during the country's state of emergency. The registry confirmed that deadlines which expire between 17 March and 15 May 2020 are suspended until the day the state of emergency is lifted (which at this time is 16 May 2020). The suspensions are automatic for proceedings before the AGEPI, so users are not required to submit an request to AGEPI. 
  • The Austrian IP Office (Patentamt) has expanded on measures it has implemented in recent weeks. The registry's customer center is suspended "until further notice", while paper processing has also ceased. Furthermore, most legal deadlines for proceedings before the registry are suspended until at least 30 April (with some exceptions, including any deadlines due to EU law). 
  • The Lithuania IP Office has confirmed that its staff will be working remotely until at least 11 May. The move follows the country's government extending the national quarantine measures until that date. 

 

Update: 21 April 2020

  • The Indian IP Office (CGPDTM) has informed users that all of its officemols are not physically accessible until 3 May 2020. It follows the Indian government announced that its nationwide lockdown has been extended until that date. Furthermore, the High Country of Delhi and all courts subordinate to it are also suspended until 3 May. (H/T SS Rana & Co)
  • The executive director of the EUIPO, Christian Archambeau, has updated users on the situation at the registry. In a video update, Archambeau explained that the EUIPO moved to full teleworking five weeks ago, but nonetheless production at the office "continues at normal levels". He added that the EUIPO "is planning for an eventual return to its premises when conditions allow".

 

Update: 20 April 2020

  • The World IP Organisation (WIPO) has confirmed that it will not be sending or receiving communicationsmold by postal mail until further notice. The move follows the suspension of postal service in Switzerland. 
  • The UK IP Office (UKIPO) has confirmed that it can no longer process paper forms and faxes, and that no documents can be filed by hand at our offices. Therefore, users are urged to online use the registry's online services. For any services that are not available online, the UKIPO has created a new email address ('[email protected]') that can be used instead of faxes or posted documents. 
  • The Spanish IP Office (OEPM) has launched a new section on its website dedicated to disseminating information and tools for those affected by the covid-19 outbreak. The new page includes information (including tools and online training courses) being offered by the OEPM and also third parties. 
  • The Hong Kong IP Office has extended its special work arrangements until 26 April, meaning various deadlines are extended and its public service counter is operating on limited days. 
  • The Azerbaijan IP Office is closed to the public for the foreseeable future. The announcement means users can only file applications through the registry's online portal or by email, with the date of receipt of an email will be considered a priority date, even if the email is not seen immediately. 
  • The Moldova IP Office (AGEPI) has confirmed that it will resume its activity from 27 April 2020, although special measures will continue to be in place until at least 15 May.
  • The Iranian IP Office has confirmed that its working hours have been reduced, with most staff working remotely. However, no extensions of deadlines have been announced to date. 
  • The Kurdistan IP Office has announced that all operations are suspended until 2 May, with deadlines extensions to the same date. (H/T JAH & Co)
  • The Ecuador IP Office has launched new services to help users get information on distinctive signs, including obtaining the status of the marks and being able to access the documents regarding the brand registration. The new services are available from today (20 April) on the registry's website. 

 

Update: 15 April 2020

  • The Indian IP Office has confirmed that it will remain closed to the public until 3 May 2020, with all deadlines falling between 25 March and 3 May now extended until 4 May 2020. It follows the Indian government announcing that the country will remain under lockdown until that date. Furthermore, the registry has cancelled all hearings scheduled on lockdown dates, with new dates to be provided in due course. Positively, online services remain unaffected by the lockdown.
  • The Benelux IP Office (BOIP) has confirmed that its measures related to the coronavirus have been extended until at least 28 April 2020. The measures include employees working from home, the BOIP headquarters being closed to visitors, and current deadlines being postponed. 
  • The Switzerland IP Office (IPI) has updated users on the measures it is taking to keep operations running during the covid-19 situation. Specifically, the IPI confirmed it will grant extensions of two months for the first and second extension requests for IP matters. It further confirmed that "the majority of time limits for procedures before the IPI will be suspended from 21 March until 19 April 2020". In a separate update, the registry announced that it will carry out assisted patent searches and patent landscape analyses free-of-charge from 1 April until 31 May 2020, with the searches taking place via an online meeting platform.
  • The New Zealand IP Office (IPONZ) has confirmed that it will treat extension requests "favourably" in the weeks ahead for those affected by the covid-19 outbreak . On top of that, it confirmed that some due dates may be changed by the IPONZ itself, including deadlines to respond to trademark compliance reports, deadlines to respond to design examination reports, and deadlines to file evidence for proceeding cases. An IPONZ representative further explained: "If a due date for one of your cases has been moved, a case-specific notification will be provided to your primary contact via the IPONZ online system. IPONZ is closely monitoring incoming requests and dealing with any time sensitive matters. As IPONZ staff are having to work remotely, we will not usually be able to achieve our published processing timeframes. Please rest assured that any deadline will be treated as having been conditionally met and the IPONZ delay in processing will be taken into account if further action is required."
  • The EUIPO has extended the deadline for its DesignEuropa Awards due to the disruption caused by the covid-19 outbreak. The new deadline is 8 May 2020.

 

Update: 14 April 2020

  • The Japan IP Office (JPO) has published a new, English language guide on the measures it has implemented related to the coronavirus. A JPO representative explained to WTR that the page "provides information for those who are unable to go through filing procedures for patents, utility models, designs, and trademarks due to the adverse effects of the covid-19 coronavirus."
  • The African IP Office (OAPI) has posted a message on its website in which it denies recent rumours related to the coronavirus. "Contrary to the assertions of malicious people, no member of staff of the OAPI has, to date, tested positive for the covid-19 virus," the message states.
  • The Russian IP Office (Rospatent) has launched a new mobile phone help service to ensure users have access to expert advice. From today, users can call a mobile phone for consultations on issues including "trademark contractual relations", "trademark search advice" and "payment of fees".
  • The Estonian IP Office (Patendiamet) has published a lengthy update on procedural acts it has implemented due to the emergency situation. It confirmed that the registry "is ready" to extend various time limits related to trademark prosecution, and confirmed that it "may suspend proceedings for a total of up to 24 months" depending on a situation described by an applicant. Furthermore, the registry confirmed that users can restore a due date if needed: "The proprietor of the trade mark may request that the term of extension of the term of protection of the trade mark be reinstated within six months after the expiry of the term of protection of the trade mark." Generally, though, the office is supporting "a case-by-case approach" and ensures users it has the flexibility to react to most situations that may arise.
  • The Ecuador IP Office (SENADI) has confirmed that it has extended the suspension of deadlines from 16 March until 19 April. The trademark office continues to be operational "through digital platforms, so applications, renewals, change of names, assignments, annuity fee and maintenance fee payments can be made online", one local IP practitioner told WTR.
  • The Cuban IP Office (OCPI) has "temporarily suspended all office procedures and formalities", according to a new update.  The registry announced that, due to Resolution Number 1041/2020, work has been "suspended and stopped" from 14 April 2020. 
  • The Mauritius IP Office is not accepting any applications until 4 May 2020. The move follows Mauritius beginning a nationwide lockdown until that date.

 

Update: 9 April 2020

  • The German IP Office (DPMA) has updated customers on measures it is taking in relation to covid-19. Specifically, it is urging users to "not make any requests that are not absolutely necessary until further notice", especially in regards to the status of procedures or requests for extension of time limits. The reason, the DPMA added, is to "ensure that IP procedures can be handled as effectively as possible", with the registry saying: "The DPMA is currently able, to some extent, to maintain business operations and continue conducting IP procedures in the fields of patents, utility models, trade marks and designs."
  • The Hong Kong IP Office (IPD) has confirmed the extension of its special work arrangements until 19 April. As described in an earlier update (below), the office is maintaining limited services, including e-filing and its public service counter. 
  • The Japan IP Office (JPO) has informed users that it has temporarily closed the JPO Library. The library, which is the only specialised library for IP rights in Japan, closed from 8 April for the foreseeable future. 
  • The Hungarian IP OFfice (DZIV) has announced that, from 10 April, it will no longer be providing information support by phone. Therefore, users requiring information from the registry should do so by email ('[email protected]'). 
  • The Irish IP Office (IPOI) has confirmed that it will remain closed for transaction business with the public until 19 April 2020. Therefore, dates between 13 March to 19 April are deemed to be "excluded days" for all purposes of IP work (as described in an earlier update below). Furthermore, IPOI staff are working from home and will "continue to maintain all of its online and e-services", although staff cannot currently take phone enquiries from users (all enquiries should be made by email, '[email protected]'). 
  • The Italian IP Office (UIBM) has informed WTR that it has extended the suspension of terms until 15 May, following changes to the national law regarding measures related to the covid-19 crisis. The previous extension was until 15 April. Users can read more about the latest change on the UIBM website (in Italian). 

 

Update: 8 April 2020

  • The Nigerian IP Office has sent a letter (photo) to local practitioners about the measures it is taking in relation to the covid-19 outbreak. The Nigerian government has ordered a "complete shutdown of activities" in the country, and so the IP registry has extended all actions affected by the lockdown – particularly with respect to applications published in the February 2020 edition of the Trademarks Journal. The suspension will occur until the end of the lockdown period "as declared by the federal government". (H/T @IpNaija)
  • The Italian IP Office (UIBM) has contacted WTR to clarify its current status. A representative said: "Our premises have been closed to the public since March 12 due to the pandemic, but the office staff is working remotely and is fully operational. Our services are provided online and on the phone, and our helpdesk is available." Further information can be found on the UIBM website.

 

Update: 7 April 2020

  • The USPTO has posted new information on the extensions of deadlines under the CARES Act. Specifically, a new 'trademarks and TTAB' FAQs page has been published, with various questions that users have requested being answered. 
  • The Chile IP Office (INAPI) has announced "exceptional measures for its judicial processes". Specifically, Law 21,226 has passed which allows the suspension of hearings (or other actions) in court cases. For its part, the INAPI confirmed various new measures to comply with the new law, including that it will reschedule any suspended proceedings at the "earlier possible date".
  • The Korean IP Office (KIPO) has hosted a teleconference meeting with 16 major IP offices to explain the "Korean Covid-19 Quarantine Model". The call, which was held on 6 April, included IP registries from the United States, China, Japan, India and various European countries. A KIPO representative stated that the meeting was a success, adding: "We will actively participate in global efforts for our efforts to share Korean experiences and successful response models in the field of intellectual property with the international community."
  • The World IP Association (WIPO) has informed users that the IP offices of Antigua and Barbuda, Italy, Madagascar, Mexico and Tunisia are now closed to the public for the foreseeable future.
  • The Belize IP Office has closed for all business and will resume services from 20 April, according to local media. In the meantime, users can send any enquiries (such as about e-filings) to two emails addresses ('[email protected]' and '[email protected]'). 

 

Update: 6 April 2020

  • The Singapore IP Office (IPOS) has announced new relief measures related to covid-19. The registry confirmed that, from 7 April, its physical office will be closed, with staff working from home "to support all customers". Furthermore, all filing deadlines are extended until 8 May for any deadlines set between 7 April and 7 May inclusive. Finally, all appointments will be conducted by phone or email, with all business and legal clinics moving to tele-conferencing. Concluding the announcement, the IPOS said: "We ask for your patience and understanding where there may be potential delays in documentation. However, we like to assure you that we are closely monitoring the ever-evolving situation."
  • The Djibouti IP Office has suspended all operations until further notice, with deadlines extended "until the trademark office reopens for business".
  • The Qatar IP Office has suspended legal deadlines (and related penalties) from 5 April until the foreseeable future. However, this suspension is not applicable "to annuities, examination and grant fees for patents which are paid online". (H/T JAH & Co IP)

 

Update: 3 April 2020

  • The Russian IP Office (Rospatent) has explained to users how its rules for accepting applications has changed due to the coronavirus infection. In a new post, Rospatent confirmed it has temporarily closed some of its offices and that applications (and various types of re-correspondence) can now be sent by email address ('[email protected]') until paper applications are accepted again. Therefore, "an application filed by e-mail is considered as an application filed on paper", so therefore the size of the fee is not reduced. The registry further clarified that any application filed by email "should be presented in the form of scanned copies in PDF format containing the signature of the applicant". 
  • The Polish IP Office (UPRP) has updated users on measures it has implemented to counteract the effects of the pandemic. The most significant measure is that various IP actions are suspended. For example, filing an objection to a trademark applications with a deadline from 8 March to 30 June is now suspended to 1 July. Furthermore, all court proceedings, administrative proceedings, hearings and public meetings will not be conducted for the foreseeable future. Crucially, authorities conducting these proceedings cannot be "punished, fined or ordered to pay sums of money to the applicants for not issuing decisions within the time limits specified by law". 
  • The Vietnam IP Office (NOIP) has posted an update on filing IP applications online and by post. Specifically, the NOIP now only accepts online applications or filings sent by post only to its offices in Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang City. At the same time, all transactions are now stopped at its Hanoi office (from 3 April until the foreseeable future). 
  • The Cuban IP Office (OCPI) has confirmed various measures it has implemented due to the covid-19 crisis. Firstly, it has suspended deadlines for IP procedures for any that were due to expire in the period from 27 March to 4 May. It is understood that the new deadline resumes from May 5 (the OCPI includes examples in its post). Secondly, the OCPI customer service is now limited to Monday to Thursday from 8am to 12pm. 
  • The Uzbekistan IP Office has announced that its staff are now working remotely, and it has posted relevant phone numbers for key staff on its website.
  • The Sri Lanka IP Office (NIPO) has posted another update on the measures it has implemented. It advised users that wish to file notices of opposition should send a filled-in scanned form and a bank receipt to a new Gmail address ('[email protected]'). Furthermore, it confirmed that three month extensions will be granted to file oppositions (from the date of the gazette publication). To request an extension, users should send it to the above Gmail address "on or before the due date". Finally, the registry also posted contact details of key staff that are now working remotely.

 

Update: 1 April 2020

  • The USPTO has announced an extension of certain trademark-related timing deadlines as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Full details can be read on the USPTO website. Broadly, all prosecution deadlines that fall between 27 March and 30 April are now eligible for a 30-day extension. To get one, a party will need to file a statement claiming that the delay us due to the covid-19 pandemic and that someone involved with the prosecution is personally affected – with that definition including things such as office closures, travel delays and family illnesses. Crucially, such deadlines extensions are not possible for actions including inter partes review petitions and original filing deadlines. In a statement announcing the deadline extensions, USPTO director Andrei Iancu said: "Our goal is to ensure not only that inventors and entrepreneurs can weather the storm, but that they can also hit the ground running once it passes."
  • The Malaysian IP Office (MyIPO) has confirmed that extensions related to the coronavirus have been extended until 14 April 2020. Therefore, any deadlines set for 1 April are now extended until at least 14 April. 
  • The Korean IP Office (KIPO) has announced a new video conference with the  USPTO to share the current status of covid-19 response and to find better ways to help users. According to the KIPO, it is "the first international video conference" to be organised between two IP offices focused on coronavirus response. Furthermore, the two registries have established a 'hotline' to "quickly share the coronavirus-related trends in the future and continue to discuss preemptive response requirements". Commenting on this development, KIPO director Won-Ju Park said: "In the future, even in this crisis, the KIPO will continue to contribute to solving social problems through rapid international cooperation."
  • The Russian IP Office (Rospatent) has temporarily suspended the receiving of correspondence on paper at its office located at Berezhkovskaya Embankment. It urges users to use electronic services.
  • The African IP Office (OAPI) has published a letter (in French) with measures it is taking in relation to the coronavirus. A key measure is that most IP-related deadlines that fall between 18 March and 30 April are now extended until 31 May. Furthermore, it confirmed its headquarters is now open only from 8.30am until 1.30pm. 
  • The Peru IP Office (Indecopi) has eased requirements for those who need to obtain digital certificates for the first time. In a press release, the registry said the relaxation of requirements is for users whose digital certificate has expired and those who request it for the first time. A registry representative said: "The purpose of [this move] is to facilitate remote communications with full legal effect in the current moment of health emergency due to the covid-19 coronavirus, in which face-to-face verification for this type of activity has been suspended by mandate of superior legal regulations."

 

Update: 31 March 2020

  • The World IP Organisation (WIPO) has sent an alert to users on temporary measures concerning certified documents. It confirmed that, due to ongoing disruptions in postal services across the globe, the International Bureau of WIPO will be delivering electronic versions of various documents for the foreseeable future. The documents, which will be sent in PDF format, are certified copies of certificates of international registration and renewal, attestations, and detailed certified extracts. Paper copies of these documents will be sent "as soon as possible". Furthermore, three services are suspended until further notice: the issuance of simple certified extracts, legalisation of documents, and expedited services. Finally, WIPO added: "Holders of international registrations with a date later than January 1, 2011, and their representatives are reminded that they may download, free of charge, simple copies of their certificates of international registration and renewal using the Madrid Portfolio Manager."

 

Update: 30 March 2020

  • The Spanish IP Office (OEPM) has published Royal Decree 463/2020 which addresses how the office will address interruptions due to the Covid-19 crisis. It clarifies that "all kinds of applications will continue to be accepted for processing", although notes that a suspensions are not necessarily granted. For users with current or upcoming IP matters at the OEPM, the resolution is a must read.
  • The Portugal IP Office (INPI) has issued another update to its operations. It reminds users that 97% of its employees are now teleworking, and that face-to-face services are now only available by appointment. Furthermore, while most IP deadlines are suspended, users can act within a deadline period because the INPI wants to continue the processing of work as possible. In fact, the office concluded its latest post by saying: "It is important to appeal to everyone that it is increasingly important not to leave until tomorrow what we can do today, even if digitally."
  • The French IP Office (INPI) has provided details on a new ordinance in relation to deadlines during the country's state of emergency. Most IP-related deadlines occurring "in the period between 12 March and one month after the end of the state of health emergency" are now postponed by either one month after the end of this period (if the initial period was one month) or two months after the end of this period (if the initial period was two months or more). The INPI acknowledged this could be confusing for users, so expanded: "By way of illustration, this means that if the end of the state of emergency is declared for example on April 28, all the deadlines supposed to end between March 12 and May 28 are postponed to June 28 if the initial deadline was one month and July 28 if the initial period was two months or more." However, the INPI urged users to continue responding to notifications if they can, as the registry expects services to be "clogged up" at the end of the health emergency and INPI staff are continuing to process requests through teleworking.
  • The Austrian IP Office (Patentamt) has posted another update, this time confirming that its customer center and deposit box are closed until further notice.
  • The Finland IP Office (PRH) has published an update on deadlines for trademarks and designs. "We understand that the coronavirus causes difficulties for customers and therefore want to support applicants in all ways permitted by law," a PRH representative says, adding that some trademark-related deadlines (including filing statements or corrections) cannot be changed. "We will take into account the exceptional situation caused by the coronavirus when we consider deadline extensions," the PRH representative added. "We extend deadlines easier if the customer cannot act by the deadline due to the coronavirus. Customers must pay an extension fee for each extension request."
  • The Irish IP Office (IPOI) has confirmed that it will remain closed "for transaction business with the public" until at least 19 April 2020. Therefore, any days until then are deemed to be "excluded days" from deadlines. Furthermore, all IPOI staff are now working remotely and are not able to deal with phone enquiries. Therefore, from 30 March, all enquiries to the IPOI should be made by email ([email protected]) until further notice.
  • The Russian IP Office (Rospatent) has posted an update on its services following the Russian government establishing that the period 30 March to 3 April are "non-working days". Therefore, the registry confirmed that any deadline that falls on those dates "will be considered the day of the end of the term" (presumably 4 April). 
  • The South African IP Office (CIPC) has announced that, due to the national lockdown implemented in the country, it will be closed to the public from 25 March until 30 April. Therefore, all IP deadlines at the CIPC are extended until 1 May 2020. Furthermore, all external-facing CIPC IP systems (including online filing) are not available during the closure dates,  while all contact enquiries (including by email and phone) will not be "attended to, processed or responded to" during the time period.
  • The African Regional IP Office (ARIPO) has confirmed that its headquarters will be closed from 30 March for 21 days. The move follows the Zimbabwean government mandating a national lockdown during that time. However, the director general of ARIPO added that the registry "remains operational" with staff working from home. 
  • The Canadian IP Office (CIPO) has published an update on its operations, stating that users should "expect significant delays in all CIPO services". To help reduce the negative impact for users by these delays, the registry confirmed that all deadlines that fall before 30 April 2020 are now extended until 1 May 2020. A further extension could occur depending on circumstances, the registry added. 
  • The Hong Kong IP Office has confirmed that its special work arrangement are now extended until 5 April. Therefore, like before (see below update), many of its services are running at a limited capacity.
  • The Pakistan IP Office has announced that, as of 24 March, its branch and regional offices will be closed for the foreseeable future. Therefore, all hearings (and other meetings) will be rescheduled.
  • The Belarus IP Office (NCIP) has confirmed that, from 25 March, its IP consultation center has been "temporarily limited". Therefore, any contact should be via phone instead of in-person. 
  • The Latvian IP Office (LRPV) has announced that all face-to-face services are restricted until the end of the country's state of emergency. Therefore, users are urged to submit any applications online, by email, or by postal mail. 
  • The Georgia IP Office (Sakpatenti) has fully switched to remote working mode, it confirmed in a statement. Therefore, users are urged to submit all applications digitally, and pledged that all services will continue to by performed "without delay".
  • The Lithuania IP Office has similarly confirmed that all staff are working remotely until at least 13 April. 
  • The Slovenia IP Office has explained specific measures it has introduced to help users during the covid-19 crisis. Specifically, various time limits "do not run" during the current time period, including deadlines for opposition and maintenance of rights. However, some exceptions do occur for matters deemed to be "urgent", including the issuing of priority certificates for patents, trademarks and designs. Furthermore, the office no longer allows written and oral submissions, and requests all applications to be sent by email. 
  • The Moldova IP Office (AGEPI) has announced that, from 30 March to 3 April, it will be suspending all activities. Nonetheless, it confirmed that during that period, "the legal regime will apply", suggesting any deadlines on those days will remain in place.
  • The Montenegro IP Office (ZISCG) has informed users that all requests and submissions to the registry must be sent electronically by email. For that reason, its primary office is now closed to the public.
  • The Croatian IP Office (DZIV) has expanded on measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. It confirmed that face-to-face services are suspended from 24 March, with users requested to use the DZIV online, email and phone in the meantime. Furthermore, "due to special circumstances", the registry is unable to provide search services for IP information.
  • The Australian IP Office (IP Australia) has written another update on changes needed to ensure it complies with Covid-19 restrictions. Going forward, all hearings are being conducted by video conferencing, telephone or by written submission. It follows the previous update on deadlines earlier this month.
  • The El Salvador IP Office (CNR) has confirmed that its offices will remain closed to the public until further notice.
  • The Dominican Republic IP Office (ONAPI) has suspended all of its services following the country's declaration of a state of emergency. From 20 March, all of the registry's offices were closed for the foreseeable future, although its online platform remains open. Therefore, all legal deadlines are currently suspended, and will be resumed "within three business days of the end of the state of emergency".
  • The Sri Lanka IP Office (NIPO) has confirmed that it plans to re-open its headquarters on 1 April "to attend to some urgent matters". Therefore, any users that have urgent matters or are due payment can request (by email) an appointment on that day (with slots allocated upon a request being received). The registry adds: "When visiting the office please adhere to the health instructions given by the authorities, such as wearing face masks."
  • The Brunei Darussalam IP Office (BruIPO) has posted a brief update on measures it has implemented in recent days. "The safety and wellbeing of our guests and customers is always a top priority," an office representative said. "BruIPO have implemented proactive precautionary measures including installing hand disinfectant dispenser and increase sanitization at the reception area. Nonetheless, the reception area will be temporarily closed and BruIPO will only accept documents, filing submissions and payments."
  • The Sint Maarten IP Office (BIPSXM) has confirmed that its headquarters will be closed to the public until at least 31 March 2020. Users are therefore urged to contact the office by email, phone or WhatsApp in the meantime. 
  • The Iraq IP Office has suspended all operations until 11 April. 
  • The IP registries of Ethiopia and Syria have suspended all operations "until further notice". 
  • The Tunisia IP Office has extended all deadlines until 6 April 2020, with all operations at the registry suspended until that date.
  • The Egypt IP Office has confirmed that all operations are suspended until 8 April. 

 

Update: 27 March 2020

  • The UK IP Office (UKIPO) has temporarily closed its buildings in Newport and London following government advice aimed at reducing the spread of Coronavirus. The organisation has stated that the majority of its services remain unaffected, with changes to some service processes implemented. The changes include the declaration of a period of ‘interrupted days’ to give rights holders, businesses and IP professionals flexibility until normal business resumes, no processing of business or communication by fax or paper and a new dedicated email address available for services not available online. The full announcement is available here.
  • Turkish Parliament has approved Law No. 2/2633 adapting the measures to suspend time limits for various administrative and legal proceedings including those concerning IP rights. It came into force upon its publication in yesterday’s (26 March 2020) Turkish Official Gazette. WTR received the following update from Yasemin Aktas, partner at OFO VENTURA: “The Turkish PTO and the legal authorities will fully remain at the disposal and the below measures in the Law are aimed to extend deadlines just in case:  (A) Time limits for administrative proceedings, including before the Turkish PTO, expiring between 13 March and 30 April 2020 have been suspended to 1 May 2020. This suspension includes all procedural deadlines from payment of any official fees for obtaining or maintaining any IP rights to filing responses to office actions and from submission of oppositions and appeals to submission of evidences to prove use of opponent’s marks and claiming priority. (B) Time limits for civil legal proceedings expiring between 13 March and 30 April 2020 have been suspended to 1 May 2020. This includes all deadlines irrespective of whether they have been set by the courts or are statutory in nature, from filing civil court actions with infringement, nullification and unfair competition claims to filing court actions for cancellation of the Turkish PTO decisions, from responding court actions and preliminary injunction requests to submission of evidences, from submission objections/statements on expert reports to filing appeals to the decisions of first instance courts, regional courts of justice or court of appeals or responding appeals, from payment of ordered legal fees to starting or maintaining mediation proceedings. By contrast, time limits for proceedings required to conduct preliminary injunction orders are kept out of this suspension measure and will run as usual. (C) Time limits for filing criminal complaints and for conducting search and seizure orders due to infringement and unfair competition actions which are subject to jail and fines will keep running, but all other time limits for subsequent proceedings in criminal legal actions expiring between 13 March and 30 April 2020 have been suspended by 1 May 2020 regardless of whether they have been set by the courts or are statutory in nature. (D) Hearings of civil and criminal court actions falling into this suspension term can be postponed by the courts to any date later than 30 April 2020 (in practice 4 May because 1 May is a public holiday leading into the weekend). (E)  The suspended time limits for administrative and legal procedures will start running again after 30 April 2020, with another 15 days extension for the deadlines which would have ended in or less than 15 days to 13 March.  In case of continuation of the pandemic, this suspension term may be extended for once up to six months by the president without prejudice to change of its scope and terms."

 

Update: 25 March 2020

  • The Korean IP Office (KIPO) has announced further measures to support applicants "directly and indirectly" affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. In an email to WTR, a KIPO spokesperson said that, regardless of their nationality, applicants whose applications is currently pending before the registry will be granted "an automatic extension" for certain actions (such as submission of written opinion) to 30 April 2020. Applicants will not be required to file a request for this extension to take effect. The KIPO representative added: "This measure also applies to the cases where applicants have failed to observe time limits for certain procedural actions for any reasons relating to the Covid-19, as KIPO will regard such reasons as the causes beyond their control and therefore not imputable to them. All they will be asked to do is just indicating in the statement simply that the cause of such failure relates to the Covid-19. This ex post remedy will also be available up until 30 April 2020."
  • Yesterday, India's prime minister Narendra Modi imposed a nationwide lockdown in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus – the restrictions to be in place for 21 days. in a public notice issued shortly after Indian IP Office (CGPDTM) noted that it will remain close for a period of 21 days with effect from 25 March. It adds: “In view the above, the due dates of timelines/periods prescribed under different IP acts and rules administered by the CGPDTM with respect to completion of various acts/activities, filing of any reply/document, payment of fees, etc. regarding any IP applications filed with the offices under the administrative control of the CGPDTM shall be the date on which the offices will re-open.”
  • The South African IP Office (CIPC) has announced that, due to a national lockdown, customers can not currently interact with CIPC, which has also brought forward its financial year end. It anticipates that electronic services will resume on 1 April 2020.
  • The World IP Organisation (WIPO) has contacted WTR with an update on operations, confirming that its UDRP and related ccTLD case capacity remains unchanged, the organisation continuing to process cases. As noted in a recent update, parties are “kindly requested to understand that a degree of flexibility and discretion may be appropriate or necessary in individual case scenarios (eg, in granting extensions).” As before, parties may submit case filings to [email protected], case-specific queries to [email protected] and general questions to [email protected]. A general update on WIPO services is available here.

 

Update: 23 March 2020

  • In a public notice issued earlier today, the Indian IP Office (CGPDTM) has, in view of the concern raised by stakeholders over the submission of documents in time in prevailing conditions, drawn attention to Section 131 of the Trademarks Act 1999, and Rules 109 & 110 of the Trademarks Rules 2017, with regards to extension of time. It states: “Accordingly the applicant can file request for extension of time (now or after situation becomes normal) and such request will be considered by the Registrar in accordance to law”. Additionally, all patent office hearings scheduled to take place between 23 March and 31 March via video conferencing are  cancelled and will be rescheduled for a later date.
  • The Portugal IP Office (INPI) has suspended mandatory digital signatures across a range of trademark processes, although digital signatures are still required for oppositions, renewals and registry changes, amongst other things. Portugal has also published Law No. 1-A / 2020, which allows for the suspension of procedural activities and deadlines. The office states, however, that it is operating as normal as possible . in the current state of emergency.
  • The Kenyan IP Office (KIPI) has issued a notice on disruption to services. It notes that a limited number of staff will continue to essential services such as receiving and processing applications, and issuing certificates. Applicants are advised to file applications and other documents via the [email protected] email address.

Update: 20 March 2020

  • The World IP Organisation (WIPO) has released an information notice explaining remedies it has taken in recent days. Key measures include the automatic extension of time limits when a national IP office is not open to the public, and urging all brand owners to "use electronic communication to minigate the negative effects of possible disruptions in mail or delivery services". 
  • The UK IP Office (UKIPO) has released an update on its measures to tackle the spread of the coronavirus. The registry confirmed that its buildings remain open "for essential work", but that the majority of UKIPO staff are "equipped to work from home". However, it admitted that hearings held at its Aldgate Tower office will be disrupted, with hearings to continue by phone, Skype or other virtual methods, and physical hearings suspended until at least 1 June 2020. 
  • The Sri Lanka IP Office (NIPO) has issued a notice confirming that it will accept payments through bank transfers "only for urgent matters of trademark, patent or industrial design". On top of that, NIPO director general Geethanjali Ranawaka apologised for the inconvenience but pledged to support the local IP community: "It is important that all of us should work together in order to overcome this situation whilst protecting our employees as well as the general public, who patronize this office. We assure you that upon resuming normal functions we will work hard to achieve our predicted targets."
  • The Benelux IP Office (BOIP) has posted an update on its measures to combat coronavirus. Specifically, the registry said that all employees are working from home, its premises are currently closed to the public, and current deadlines are postoned. On the latter point, a separate letter was issued that said, from 16 March, "BOIP will not withdraw any requests or procedures because a given deadline has not been met". That measure will be in place "until such time as it is reasonably possible for IP professionals and entrepreneurs in the Benelux countries to work normally again". The registry also warned that, because of the suspension of deadlines, "the register may not reflect the accurate status of certain trademarks".

 

Update: 19 March 2020

  • The USPTO has announced another measure to help users adapt to changing workflows due to the coronavirus outbreak. In an emailed alert, the registry confirmed it will no longer require an original handwritten signature on a number of IP communications. "The USPTO is waiving the requirements of 37 CFR 1.4(e)(1) and (2) for an original handwritten signature for certain correspondence with the Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED) and certain payments by credit card," the registry explained. It follows the USPTO determining the Covid-19 to be an "extraordinary situation" within the meaning of 37 CFR 1.183 for affected patent and trademark owners. 
  • The EUIPO has issued another update on its deadline extensions related to the Covid-19 outbreak. In a detailed post, the registry clarified "the time limits affected by the extension, the nature of the extension, and the measures to adapt communications sent to user".  The information includes exactly what matters are covered by the extension (ie, payment of application fees, opposition periods, requests for renewal) and that the new expiry date applicable to them all will be 1 May 2020 (although, in practice, it will be 4 May). An EUIPO representative added: "The extension of time limits granted by the executive director has the immediate effect of preventing the deadlines concerned from lapsing when they were originally due. This effect is automatic and derives directly from the decision of the executive director. Accordingly, affected parties are not required to file a request to the office for the extension of the time limit to take effect. The immediate effect of the extension also implies that users whose time limits are concerned will not be informed about the grant of the extension by means of individual communications."
  • The Italian IP Office (UIBM) has announced a significant extension of administrative procedures and an extension of the validity of expiring documents. From this week, any certificates and IP titles that expire between 31 January and 15 April will remain valid until 15 June 2020 (this does not apply to international trademark applications).  
  • The German IP Office (DPMA) has confirmed that its information centres and research rooms will be closed "until further notice". Further, there will be no on-site consultations and no initial consultations for inventors for the foreseeable future. "This measure is necessary to prevent a possible spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) at the DPMA and to reduce the risk of exposure of staff and visitors," a DPMA representative said. "We ask for your understanding."
  • The French IP Office (INPI) has closed all of its buildings to the public, with most staff now working from home. Further, all training organised by INPI has been suspended.
  • The Australian IP Office (IP Australia) has written a post reflecting on the "unprecedented situation" caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. In it, IP Australia announced that requests for extensions can be made "in the normal way" and will be considered on a case-by-case basis. However, it added that "some time periods cannot be extended" and suggested that brand owners reach out to IP professionals to check if an extension is possible.
  • The New Zealand IP Office (IPONZ) has issued an update on its services during the Covid-19 outbreak. Specifically, the registry says that all services are currently operating as usual, and users can request an extension of time should they be affected by the virus. An IPONZ representative added: "IPONZ’s existing commitment to flexible working means that our staff members already have the tools they need to work remotely. We anticipate that IPONZ will be able to continue providing at least core services, should the need arise for all staff to work remotely."
  • The Ireland IP Office has confirmed the closure of its office from 13 March to 29 March. The registry clarified that it will continue to "maintain all of its online and e-services, including e-filing of applications, electronic fee payments and enquiries by telephone and email during normal opening hours".
  • The Philippines IP Office (IPOPHL) has confirmed that it has moved to an "online only" service for the time being. From 16 March until 14 April, all manual IP filings are suspended and staff will be working from home. Explaining the move, IPOPHL director general Rowel Barba said: "IPOPHL is closely watching developments to guide us in effectively protecting our employees, our top priority, while still delivering our services to our stakeholders through innovative alternative methods. Despite the month-long work suspension, it will be public service as usual for IPOPHL as my hardworking colleagues and I virtually communicate every day to maintain the quality and nationwide availability of our service."
  • The Norway IP Office (NIPO) has announced various measures to help it maintain services while lessening the risk of exposure for staff. The registry confirmed that its customer service centre will "hold normal office hours", but staff will be taking the calls from home. However, in-person meetings cannot be conducted as the NIPO headquarters are closed to the public "until further notice". Further, deadline extensions for "at least two months" will now be granted for designs and trademarks. Finally, if a user fails to meet a specific deadline or loses registered rights during this period, users can now request re-establishment of those rights. 
  • The Finland IP Office (PRH) has closed its customer service building in Helsinki, with users urged to use the registry's online and telephone services instead. A registry representative said: "We are prepared to carry out our duties as an authority despite the coronavirus outbreak. [Users] an send paper notifications by post or leave them in our mailbox, but it is quicker and cheaper to file online." 
  • The Portugal IP Office (INPI) has confirmed that all employees will be working from home from 16 March, with face-to-face services only available through pre-scheduling.
  • The Austrian IP Office has admitted in an alert that trademark-related services may slow down due to the coronavirus outbreak. "Due to the current exceptional situation, we are forced to change our processes," a registry representative said. "Therefore, there may be delays in the provision of services by the Austrian Patent Office in the area of ​​trademarks (trademark similarity research, pre-check trademark). We strive to limit these to a few individual cases and ask for your understanding." On top of that, all office deadlines in proceedings before the registry (eg, notice periods) are ex officio extended by two months without the need for users to request a further extension. However, all deadlines "directly resulting from the law" (eg, deadlines for submitting appeals or for paying annual and protection fees) cannot be extended, the registry added.
  • The Israel Patent Office has issued an alert that all users (including applicants and attorneys) should not visit the registry's headquarters until further notice. "Due to the situation, physical access should be avoided, except for the submission of documents in the deposit box near the guard position," a registry representative said. "You can contact the Authority by phone as usual, and submit documents online. [Further], until the end of the Passover holiday (19 April 2020), the regular hearings in the Tribunal are cancelled, and new dates will be adjusted by the Tribunal Secretariat."
  • The African Regional IP Office (ARIPO) has announced new measures in regard to the Covid-19 outbreak. They include discouraging walk-in enquiries and strongly encouraging users to take advantage of the office's online services and email/phone communications. 
  • The Kazakhstan IP Office (Kazpatent) has announced that, from 16 March to 15 April, public consultations will no longer be possible at the registry's headquarters. Instead, consultations can be carried out by phone or email. 
  • The Brazilian IP Office (INPI) has informed users that its face-to-face service is now suspended "for an indefinite period". 
  • The Chilean IP Office (INAPI) has announced various measures that it is taking in relation to the coronavirus outbreak. These include public opening hours being reduced to only "essential queries and procedures that cannot be carried out by other means", and an extension of terms in administrative procedures. 
  • The Croatian IP Office (DZIV) has announced internal protocols related to the Covid-19 situation. The key message is that it urges all communications (and filings) with the registry to be conducted digitally.
  • The Czech Republic IP Office (UPV) has announced the adoption of emergency measures. From 16 March, its filing office and cash desk have reduced opening hours (from 9:00 to 14:00), while normal office hours are reduced to Monday and Wednesdays from 9:00 to 12:00. The registry urged users to file trademark and design applications online, and for those that must visit the office, added: "Please show consideration to others and use a mask or otherwise cover your nose and mouth during your personal visit."
  • The Slovakia IP Office (IPOSR) has confirmed the various measures it has taken following the Slovak government declaring a state of emergency. Specifically, the registry's headquarters is only open to employees for the foreseeable future, and all public information is restricted to phone and email. Furthermore, personal filings are not accepted, with users urged to use electronic or postal submissions to lodge IP applications. 
  • The Hungary IP Office (HIPO) has published a letter to customers outlining the emergency measures it has taken. The registry confirmed that its face-to-face customer service will be restricted to shorter opening hours, with users urged to consider using email or phone instead. The inspection of documents is now possible "on limited occasions", while all in-person consultations with examiners is suspended "for an indefinite amount of time".
  • The Moldova IP Office (AGEPI) has outlined its measures in relations to the pandemic. From 17 March to 15 May, users are urged to file IP applications on the registry's online platform, and that the payment of all fees must be made my bank transfer or through the MPay system. All in-person consultations are suspended, and it is understood that deadlines for proceedings before the AGEPI are suspended until the lifting of the country's state of emergency.
  • The Dominican Republic IP Office (ONAPI) has posted a lengthy update on actions that it is taking to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Measures include "extension of all the legal terms granted to individuals until 31 March", while all ONAPI staff over the age of 60 or those included in risk groups are granted leave with pay. 

 

Update: 18 March 2020

  • The Canadian IP Office (CIPO) has warned users to "expect significant delays" in all services, as operations ramp down. Multiple CIPO offices are no longer receiving correspondence, including those located in Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. On top of that, all deadlines will be extended until 31 March.
  • The Malaysian IP Office is closed until 31 March, although e-filing for new trademark filings is still available. All priority deadlines for manual filings are extended until 1 April, while all appeals, oppositions and payment deadlines are extended until 30 April. 
  • The Ecuador IP Office (SENADI) has announced the closure of its premises from 16 March until further notice, with online filings still continuing. Furthermore, the registry has opened an email address for the filing of submissions ([email protected]) and suspended deadlines that fall between March 16-22. Finally, the registry now allows the payment of filing fees (which was previously only allowed by actual deposits in the bank) through wire transfers to the registry's bank account. The payment change "follows requests by local IP associations requesting urgent acceptance of online payments given that the suspension of terms does not protect IP rights from lapsing for lack of renewal or payment of annuity fees", one local practitioner told WTR

 

Update: 17 March 2020

  • The USPTO has issued another alert, this time in regard to fees. In the notice, the registry confirmed it considers the effects of the coronavirus to be an "extraordinary situation" within the meaning of 37 CFR 1.183 and 37 CFR 2.146 for any affected patent and trademark applicants and owners. Therefore, it confirmed it is waiving petition fees in certain situations for customers impacted by the coronavirus, although added that the notice "does not grant waivers or extensions of dates or requirements set by statute".
  • The Indian Trademark Registry has announced that it has suspended all hearings related to trademark matters between 17 March and 15 April. These hearings will be rescheduled "in due course", says a registry representative, while any hearings scheduled after 15 April are still planned to go ahead.
  • The Philippines IP Office (IPOPHL) has issued a press release that extends deadlines and confirms affected services until at least 14 April. Specifically, work at the IPOPHL is suspended from this week until 14 April, with a "skeletal workforce" being maintained "to ensure continued delivery of services". While new applications can be filed during this time period, any responses to official actions and other activities (such as appeals and motions for extensions) should be filed on 15 April (and any filed during the quarantine period will be "considered as having been filed on their due dates"). Furthermore, all payments that are due during the quarantine period should be paid on 15 April, while all IP court hearings and services are suspended for the time being. 
  • The Spanish IP Office (OEPM) has announced that all deadlines for pending proceedings are suspended, and will be resumed when the state of emergency or its extensions finish.
  • The Kuwait IP Office has confirmed that it has suspended operations until 26 March, meaning recordal requests or changes to applications cannot be processed until the registry re-opens. However, urgent opposition cases can still be processed, as well as any online functions (including filings and renewals). 
  • The Saudi Arabia IP Office has announced that it has suspended operations for at least 16 days from 16 March. This development means functions can be undertaken using the registry's digital tools, but delays are "expected". Crucially, though, online trademark searches of the Saudi trademark register cannot be conducted during the quarantine period.
  • The Iran IP Office has confirmed it is continuing without service disruption, but has decreased its working hours.
  • The Libya IP Office (as well as all courts in the country) is closed until further notice.

 

Update: 16 March 2020

  • The USPTO has announced that, due to the "abundance of caution for the health and safety of the public and USPTO employees", all of its offices will be closed from 16 March 2020 until further notice. Despite that move, all USPTO operations "will continue without interruption", with all patent and trademark-related deadlines not extended. 
  • The EUIPO has confirmed that it has extended all time limits expiring between 9 March and 30 April have been extended until 1 May 2020, with all staff "given the green light" to move to teleworking. An EUIPO spokesperson added: "It is business as usual for all our activities. We have the tools and technology to keep on working as normal (or as close to it under the circumstances) while at home."
  • The Peru IP Office (Indecopi) has announced that it has suspended all public meetings from this week. Alongside that move, all deadlines that were being processed are now suspended. 
  • Over in Geneva, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has announced that it is now "reserving access" to its headquarters to only personnel who are "essential to the delivery of the organisation’s business continuity protocol". On top of that, it announced that the processing of applications filed via WIPO's IP services are so far "not affected" by the coronavirus outbreak. "WIPO is dedicated to ensuring the health and safety of its personnel, while implementing plans that allow us to continue to deliver our important work program,” said WIPO director general Francis Gurry. "In these worrisome times, the entire WIPO workforce stands in solidarity with the global community as we work together to overcome Covid-19."

 

Update: 11 March 2020

  • The UKIPO published a blog on its "robust plans" to maintain services during the coronavirus outbreak. They include extending deadlines for those affected by the virus, granting extensions on a case-by-case basis, and the ability to reinstate IP rights should they be lost due to the outbreak.
  • The Italian IP Office (UIBM) published a blog confirming that it was "reorganising its services in the best way possible" to help fight and contain the COVID-19 virus. New measures include suspending its telephone assistance service to allow call centre operators "to activate agile workstations from their homes" and temporarily closing its public-facing service except to file urgent documents.
  • The Hungarian Patent Office (HIPO) confirmed that its annual Ányos Jedlik Awards ceremony (scheduled for 15 March 2020) will be postponed, has requested that users contact them by email or phone rather than in person, and that all registry employees will not travel to professional events (including those hosted by the EPO, EUIPO and WIPO). 
  • The Slovakian IP Office (IPOSR) has urged the public to "eliminate any personal contact with IPOSR employees" and confirmed that the registry's study room is temporarily closed.

 

Original article: 4 March 2020

The novel coronavirus epidemic is continuing to spread across the globe and some national IP offices have launched measures in response. WTR looks at what has currently been implemented in jurisdictions including China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Vietnam and the European Union.

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has surpassed 92,000 globally, with 80,100 of those located in China. So far, there have been 3,131 deaths and 48,500 patients fully recovering. At present, the virus has spread to 77 countries around the world, with South Korea (5,186), Iran (2,336), Italy (2,036), Japan (283), France (191), Germany (188), Singapore (108), the United States (103) and Hong Kong (100) the worst affected.

The epidemic has also had a significant impact in the IP world. In terms of mass gatherings, many IP events have been cancelled or postponed in recent weeks, including the INTA Annual Meeting, the IACC Annual Conference, ICANN’s Mexico meeting and – just this week – the MARQUES Spring Meeting. INTA is expected to announce the location of its rescheduled 2020 Annual Meeting in the days ahead. However, with other major international events facing possible cancellation (including the Olympics and Euro 2020) and many companies banning employees from non-essential travel, there could be more hurdles ahead for the INTA (and other IP organisations with scheduled events).

From a brand protection perspective, the outbreak has had a major effect on the counterfeits industry in China. A recent WTR investigation found that the production, trade and shipment of fake goods had virtually ground to a halt – although, with Chinese authorities now “encouraging citizens to return to work”, counterfeit factories and shipping agents are expected to resume operations once again.

However, when it comes to the day-to-day work of trademark professionals, national IP offices are implementing measures to minimise the impact of COVID-19. So far, some registries have announced their plans, with others currently running as normal but drafting contingency plans should the virus spread further in their jurisdiction. For example, a spokesperson from the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) told WTR: “[We are] monitoring the coronavirus situation closely and have a staged plan in place should the situation escalate nationally. We are following official coronavirus workplace guidance to ensure that we have the appropriate measures in place to help protect our staff and visitors while maintaining services for our customers.”

Also, the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has confirmed the postponement of “all meetings and events involving a high number of external stakeholders during the month of March”. Specifically, that includes events such as the 23rd Liaison Meeting on Trademarks, the 28th User Group Meeting and the fifth Anti-scam Meeting. Further, any events or activities planned outside of the EUIPO’s offices (eg, technical visits as part of the European Cooperation Project) are also postponed. A dedicated monitoring committee has also been setup at the EUIPO to follow the situation and take necessary decisions on future measures.

Elsewhere, the Hong Kong IP Office has confirmed that it is strengthening the prevention and control of the virus at its headquarters. The registry announced this week that any member of the public to visit its headquarters will have a body temperature check and will be required to wear a face mask. On top of that, meeting places have been rearranged to “better manage the distance of users” and surfaces are being regularly disinfected. Moreover, the registry is arranging hearing cases by telephone conferencing (or other electronic means) to avoid gathering people in confined areas. The Vietnamese IP Office implemented similar measures last week.

The Hong Kong registry has also extended all patent, design and trademark deadlines for any filing date that fell between 29 January and 21 February. It is understood, though, that – with service resuming at the registry – deadlines that fall after these dates are currently unaffected.

The China National IP Administration (CNIPA) has similarly extended deadlines for any trademark applicant or registrant affected by the coronavirus outbreak. On its website, the CNIPA explained that any time limits for trademark-related matters can be suspended from when a user “was hospitalised or isolated after being infected with the novel coronavirus” or from that date that any business has suspended operations “due to the prevention and control measures”. In those cases, the deadline will be extended “until the date when the infected user is discharged from hospital, or when the isolation ends, or when the business resumes work”. Further, trademark registrants that do not renew their trademark within the extension period due to the epidemic can apply for an additional two-month extension.

In South Korea, the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) has taken a major step by offering “secure collateral loads for intellectual property of Coronavirus damages”, it announced this week. Specifically, the registry is offering to financially support companies affected by the virus and those helping to tackle it (through vaccine development, prevention and diagnosis). On top of that, the registry has pledged to “improve the examination and review process of patents, trademarks, and designs” and especially conduct “prompt examination” of any patents linked to the coronavirus. Finally, the KIPO is conducting “emergency monitoring” on counterfeit goods that could impede the recovery and health of citizens at risk of the virus. “These measures are what the patent office can take right now to respond to CO-19,” commented KIPO president Won Joo Park. “We will concentrate all our capabilities to protect the health and safety of our citizens and minimise the damage to our companies.”

As the virus spreads to more countries around the world, it is expected that a greater number of national IP offices will be introducing measures to offset the impact. For now, trademark professionals are urged to keep an eye on IP office alerts – while COVID-19 is causing chaos at many businesses and law firms, some registries are taking proactive steps to help ensure users are as unaffected as possible.

    Tim Lince

    Author | Senior reporter

    [email protected]

    Tim Lince