With the Covid-19 pandemic disrupting business across the world many of the world’s intellectual property offices have taken steps to suspend and extend the time limits which apply to some of the main intellectual property rights.
The Intellectual Property Team at Edwin Coe is available as normal to assist you during this crisis and we have summarised the position below in relation to the UK and the European Union. Rights holders and applicants or potential applicants should however bear in mind two key points:
First to file
IP rights across Europe are generally granted on a first to file basis with the first applicant for a particular right being in pole position to obtain that right. These emergency suspensions and extensions of time do not alter that principle nor do they alter the all important filing date you will receive for your application. So for example a business filing for a UK trade mark on 1st April will have earlier rights than a business filing for the same or similar mark on 2nd April notwithstanding that both applications are made on “interrupted days”.
It is therefore important that if you are planning a filing programme that you do not delay it or at least take advice before you delay. In most cases the filing date will still be of primary importance albeit the application is likely to proceed more slowly with key dates being deferred or extended – but of course only once the application has been filed.
Other jurisdictions and international applications
Not all intellectual property offices have suspended or extended their deadlines although many have. However where suspensions or extensions have been announced they take effect in different ways. For example contrast the slightly different approaches of the UKIPO and the various European intellectual property rights summarised below.
Checking the position is therefore particularly important where you are filing internationally or seeking to take advantage of the one of the international treaties designed to facilitate international applications for rights such as the Madrid Protocol, the European Patent Convention or the Patent Co-operation Treaty for example where the UKIPO is acting as a Receiving Office for an international application.
The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) has issued an update on the current situation with regard to Covid-19. All UKIPO buildings have been closed until further notice and staff are working from home.
The UKIPO has asked that all rights holders and IP professionals continue to file documents as normal where possible. However no documents can be filed by hand at the UKIPO offices and the office cannot process paper forms, faxes and paper correspondence.
The UKIPO is instead requesting that customers use online services and a new email address of firstname.lastname@example.org should be used instead of posting documents. The UKIPO office will no longer accept faxes; it is unclear if this a permanent or temporary measure.
Furthermore the UKIPO has declared that 24 March 2020 and all subsequent days have been designated as “interrupted days“. This means that any deadlines for:
- supplementary protection certificates;
- trademarks; or
and applications for these rights which fall on an interrupted day will be extended until the UKIPO notifies that the interrupted days period has ended.
European Intellectual Property Offices (EUIPO)
Intellectual property offices around the European Union have also extended deadlines for filings in light of the Covid-19 crisis.
The EUIPO has extended all deadlines due between 9 March 2020 and 30 April 2020 to 1 May 2020.
The EPO has extended all deadlines which fall on or between 16 March 2020 and 15 April 2020 to 17 April 2020.
Finally the CVPO (Community Plan Variety Office) has extended all deadlines until mid-May.
For an update on all the legal implications relating to Coronavirus please see here.
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Please note that this blog is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content of this blog.
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