20 April 2020Rory O'Neill

EPO extends deadlines until May over COVID-19

The European Patent Office (EPO) has  further extended deadlines until May 4 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last month, WIPR reported that the  EPO had pushed deadlines until April 17, leaving the door open to further extensions if necessary.

The office has now exercised that option, extending any deadlines falling on or after March 15 until early next month.

The EPO attributed the decision to “restrictions on the movement and circulation of persons, as well as on certain services, exchanges and public life in general” in Germany, where the office is based.

COVID-19 has caused extensive disruption to IP services, but there have been efforts across the world to continue operating remotely.

IP offices and even courts have trialled proceedings by videoconferencing. The EPO announced earlier this month that it was  piloting remote opposition proceedings, while the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has also rolled out telephone and video hearings.

The  World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has unveiled an online monitoring system, allowing users to track WIPO’s activities and financial performance remotely during the pandemic.

In the US, concern has been raised from lawmakers over the impact the disruption could have on the USPTO’s finances.

The USPTO, largely reliant on filing fees, has  experienced a decline in trademark filings so far.

Legislators including senators Thom Tillis and Christopher Coons have  written to USPTO director Andrei Iancu seeking a “status update” on the impact COVID-19 has had on the office’s operations.

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More on this story

16 March 2020   The European Union Intellectual Property Office has extended its deadlines until May 1 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe.
9 April 2020   The European Patent Office is piloting opposition oral proceedings held by videoconference, as it seeks to mitigate the ongoing disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.