US and Foreign Patent Office Updates as of March 31, 2020

As COVID-19 continues to spread and disrupt industries across the globe, patent offices in Coronavirus affected countries are, for lack of better term, not immune. These patent offices are responding by implementing deadline extensions, office closures, and delays in services. 

Below is a list of relevant patent offices divided by region and their respective statuses as of March 31, 2020: 

NORTH AMERICA

  • United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
    • All offices closed from March 16, 2020 until further notice – all USPTO operations will continue without interruption
    • Original handwritten signature no longer required for certain correspondence with the Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED) and certain payments by credit card
    • Petition fees waived in certain situations for customers impacted by the coronavirus, but does not grant waivers or extensions of dates or requirements set by statute
  • Canadian IP Office (CIPO) 
    • All deadlines occurring March 16 – April 30 extended until May 1, 2020
    • Expect significant delays in all services
    • Multiple CIPO offices are no longer receiving correspondence, including in Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver

EUROPE

  • World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) 
    • Reserving access to its headquarters to only personnel essential personnel
    • Processing of applications filed via WIPO’s IP services are so far not affected 
    • Will be delivering electronic versions (pdf) of the following documents for the foreseeable future:
      • certified copies of certificates of international registration and renewal, 
      • attestations, and 
      • detailed certified extracts
  • European Patent Office (EPO) 
    • All deadlines due between March 9 and April 16 are now due April 17, 2020
    • The extension also applies to PCT applications handled by the EPO 
    • Affected parties are not required to file a request to the office for the extension of the time limit to take effect
  • Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg
    • No requests or procedures will be withdrawn because a deadline has not been met during the period of public health restrictions caused by COVID-19
    • This is applicable to payments not received on time
  • United Kingdom IP Office (UKIPO)
    • Deadlines extended and IP rights reinstated for those affected by the virus, granting on a case-by-case basis
    • All physical hearings cancelled until June 1
  • Italian IP Office (UIBM) 
    • Any certificates and IP titles that expire between January 31 and April 15 will remain valid until June 15, 2020  
  • The German IP Office (DPMA) 
    • The following are closed or unavailable until further notice 
      • information centres 
      • research rooms 
      • on-site consultations 
      • initial consultations for inventors 
  • French IP Office (INPI) 
    • All buildings closed to the public
    • Most IP-related deadlines occurring “in the period between 12 March and one month after the end of the state of health emergency” are now postponed by either one month after the end of this period (if the initial period was one month) or two months after the end of this period (if the initial period was two months or more)
  • Czech Republic IP Office (UPV) 
    • Open with reduced hours
  • Norway IP Office (NIPO) 
    • Customer service centre will “hold normal office hours, but staff will be taking the calls from home
    • No in-person meetings 
    • NIPO headquarters are closed to the public until further notice 
    • If specific deadlines or lost registered rights occur during this period, applicants and registrants can request re-establishment of those rights
  • Finland IP Office (PRH) 
    • Customer service building in Helsinki is closed 
  • Portugal IP Office (INPI) 
    • All employees will be working from home from March 16, 2020
    • In-person services only available through pre-scheduling
  • Austrian IP Office 
    • All office deadlines in proceedings before the registry are extended by two months without the need for users to request a further extension
    • However, all deadlines directly resulting from the law cannot be extended

ASIA/PACIFIC

  • Chinese Patent and Trademark Office (CNIPA)
    • Unaffected
    • Anyone in China who would miss the deadlines with regard to patents due to the coronavirus can apply for restoration of their rights
  • Hong Kong IP Office
    • Extended all patent, design and trademark deadlines for any filing date that fell between January 29 and February 21
    • Deadlines that fall after these dates are currently unaffected
  • India Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks 
    • Closed for 21 days from March 25
    • Due dates during this period are delayed until the office reopens (Projected April 15, 2020) 
    • Delayed due dates are applicable to:
      • completion of various acts/proceedings, 
      • filing of any reply/document, and 
      • payment of fees
  • South Korea – Korean Intellectual Property Office 
    • Granting of automatic deadline extension for applicants who have failed to comply with the statutory time limits for submitting documents or paying fees to KIPO, for any reasons relating to COVID-19. 
      • Applicants will be asked to submit a relief measure request or statement of payment with an explanatory statement and evidence of impairment due to COVID-19
  • Australian IP Office 
    • Requests for extensions can be made “in the normal way” and will be considered on a case-by-case basis
    • However, “some time periods cannot be extended” and suggested that brand owners reach out to IP professionals to check if an extension is possible
  • Philippines IP Office (IPOPHL) 
    • Moved to an “online only” service  
    • From March 16 until April 14, all manual IP filings are suspended 
  • New Zealand IP Office (IPONZ) 
    • all services are currently operating as usual
    • users can request an extension of time should they be affected by the virus

MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA

  • Israel Patent Office 
    • Do not visit the registry’s headquarters until further notice
    • Can contact the Authority by phone as usual, and submit documents online
    • Regular hearings in the Tribunal are cancelled, and new dates will be adjusted
    • Extensions will be granted where applicants can demonstrate COVID-19 epidemic resulting in an inability to meet ILPO deadlines
      • To allow applicants time to submit extension requests, no files will be closed before May 1 for failure to answer ILPO correspondence
  • South African Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC)
    • Closed through April 16, including online systems. 
    • Certain automated services will become available again on April 1
    • Deadlines for filing Annual Returns between March 25 and April 15 will be automatically extended until April 30, 2020
  • Saudi Arabia IP Office 
    • Suspended operations for at least 16 days from March 16, 2020
  • African Regional IP Office (ARIPO) 
    • Closed to the public from March 25 until April 30. 
    • All IP deadlines are extended until May 1, 2020

CENTRAL/SOUTH AMERICA

  • Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI)
    • Closed to the public, 
    • All terms suspended and extended at least until April 20, 2020 
    • All deadlines will be moved to April 20, 2020, when applications/responses can be filed before IMPI
  • Brazilian IP Office (INPI) 
    • Face-to-face service is now suspended indefinitely 
  • Peru IP Office (Indecopi) 
    • Suspended all public meetings indefinitely
    • All deadlines being processed are now suspended
  • Chilean IP Office (INAPI) 
    • Public opening hours reduced essential queries and procedures that cannot be carried out by other means
    • Extension of terms for administrative procedures