UPDATE (15 MAY 2020):
In view of the ongoing Coronavirus situation, the UK Intellectual Property Office, European Patent Office, the Intellectual Property Office of Ireland and European Union Intellectual Property Office, are providing extensions to a number of key deadlines. However, this is not true across the board – it is important to know which deadlines are extended and which are not. As a rule of thumb it is advisable to speak to a qualified attorney to check if your deadlines are amongst those extended.
European Patent Office (EPO)
At the time of writing the EPO has provided a general extension of deadlines falling on or after 15 March 2020 to a new deadline of 2 June 2020. This includes filing deadlines, procedural deadlines, response deadlines and renewal fee deadlines.
There are two limited exceptions to the EPO’s general extension: the deadline for filing divisional applications (which must always be filed before the parent application’s date of grant), and the final date for making written submission in preparation for oral proceedings.
Where oral proceedings (OPs) have already been arranged on a case, then different scenarios can apply:
- If the OPs were already agreed to be held by videoconference, they proceed as arranged
- Where OPs were due to be held before 2 June, and videoconference was not originally agreed, they will be postponed and a new date set.
- In principle, OPs scheduled for after 2 June proceed as planned, but we expect this to change given that most parties either cannot or will not travel internationally for the time being.
- OPs before the Board of Appeals are supposed to recommence in person on 18 May, but we expect that the Boards will postpone such proceedings if the parties cannot travel to Munich.
The EPO will provide an update closer to 2 June as to whether the extension will be further extended, so watch this space for another update.
UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO)
At the time of writing, the UKIPO declared all days subsequent to 24 March 2020 as “interrupted days”, deadlines falling on or after this date being extended to the next interrupted day. The period of interruption will be reviewed again on 28 May 2020. A two-week notice period will follow this review, meaning that in any event the UKIPO Coronavirus extension runs until at least 11 June 2020.
This extension applies to most deadlines for patents, trademarks, supplementary protection certificates, and designs. The extension includes responses to search and examination reports, and divisional applications. The extension of renewal deadlines is not provided across the board, so it is advisable to speak to a qualified patent attorney to check if your renewal deadlines are amongst those extended.
Intellectual Property Office of Ireland (IPOI)
At the time of writing, the IPOI has declared all days between 13 March 2020 and 18 May 2020 as being “excluded days”, meaning any deadlines which would otherwise expire between those two dates are extended to the next following day which is not an excluded day. In other words, the Coronavirus extension provided by the IPOI at present runs to 19 May 2020.
European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO)
The EUIPO has today announced that there will be no further Coronavirus related extensions of deadlines expiring between 9 March and 17 May. As of 18 May 2020, all such deadline extensions come to an end and expire on that day.