With the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic being seen in all facets of our lives, European IP registries are also seeking to manage these exceptional circumstances.
On Monday 16 March 2020, the Executive Director of the EUIPO issued a decision extending all time limits for EU trade marks and designs expiring between 9 March 2020 and 30 April 2020, that affect all parties before the Office, to 1 May 2020. Similarly, the EPO has announced that all deadlines for patent matters are extended until 17 April 2020.
By way of examples:
- An EU trade mark that was due for renewal on 20 March 2020 can now be renewed by filing a valid request before 1 May 2020
- An EU trade mark application that was published for opposition after 9 January 2020 can now be opposed by filing a notice of opposition before 1 May 2020
- All evidence deadlines in EUIPO will be extended until 1 May 2020, and
- Renewal fees for all EU patents due between 15 March 2020 and 17 April 2020 can be validly paid before 17 April 2020.
It is yet to be seen if the UK Intellectual Property Office and other national registries will follow the EUIPO’s lead with a blanket extension.
So far, the Italian Patent and Trademark Office has issued a Decree providing for a stay of all official deadlines between 9 March and 3 April 2020. This relates to all deadlines before the Italian Patent and Trademark Office, except for mandatory deadlines in opposition proceedings (e.g. deadlines to file an opposition), and mandatory deadlines to bring action before the Office Board of Appeal.
An official statement by the UK Intellectual Property Office on Wednesday 11 March 2020 indicated that said it will extend periods where national and international legislation allows and that the office will support affected customers. Requests for an extension will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
On Friday 13 March 2020 the Court of Justice of the announced a temporary restriction of its operations with only those cases that are particularly urgent (such as urgent proceedings, expedited proceedings and interim proceedings) will be dealt with by the Court. However, it must be noted that notwithstanding the fact that the Court of Justice is temporarily unable to deal with them, the procedural time limits, including time limits for instituting proceedings, shall continue to run and the parties are required to comply with those time limits.