USPTO offers COVID-19 relief; CJEU restricts activities


Sarah Morgan

USPTO offers COVID-19 relief; CJEU restricts activities

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The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has announced it will waive petition fees in certain situations, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In an announcement shared yesterday, March 16, the office said that the effects of the coronavirus outbreak to be an “extraordinary situation” under the code of federal regulations.

The USPTO will waive revival petition fees for those whose patent applications were deemed abandoned or where reexamination proceedings were terminated or limited, where the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak meant that the applicants couldn’t reply in time.

“For trademark applications and registrations that were abandoned or cancelled/expired due to inability to timely respond to a trademark-related office communication as a result of the effects of the coronavirus outbreak, the USPTO will waive the petition fee (set by regulation, rather than statute) to revive the abandoned application or reinstate the cancelled/expired registration,” it added.

However, the USPTO is not granting waivers or extensions of dates or requirements set by statute, such as the period to file a patent application claiming the benefit of a prior­-filed foreign application and the 36-month period within which a statement of use for a trademark must be filed and the associated fee.

The agency added that the fees are based on regulations, while the deadlines are statute-based deadlines.

Late last week, the office said all in-person meetings, including oral hearings, would be held by video or telephone, before also closing the office to the public.

Yesterday, WIPR reported that both the European Union Intellectual Property Office and the European Patent Office had extended their deadlines.

Courts react to the pandemic

Late last week, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) said it was “obliged” to temporarily restrict its judicial activities.

Only cases that are particularly urgent (such as urgent proceedings, expedited proceedings and interim proceedings) will be dealt with by the court, until further notice. In all other cases, the procedural time limits (including time limits for instituting proceedings) will continue to run.

Similarly, the US Supreme has postponed oral arguments, which had been scheduled to start later this month, amid coronavirus worries.

In Spain, scheduled judicial proceedings and procedural deadlines have been suspended, amid the country’s lockdown.

Updates on COVID-19's impact on IP can be followed on WIPR’s live blog.

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USPTO, CJEU, US Supreme Court, COVID-19, coronavirus, proceedings, coronavirus pandemic, petition fees