Measures of  IP Offices for Protecting  Against Coronavirus
Mar 22, 2020 Measures of IP Offices for Protecting Against Coronavirus

The novel coronavirus epidemic is continuing to spread across the globe and some national IP offices have launched measures in response. In this post, Kanoon IP looks at what has currently been implemented by various national and international IP agencies/offices such as WIPO, USPTO, European Union, China, South Korea, as well as Iran.

World intellectual property (WIPO)

Despite the pandemic crisis, WIPO continues its mission of safeguarding intellectual property as a means of driving innovation, investment, and economic opportunity everywhere in the world. In response to the pandemic coronavirus, in the first place, WIPO put in place remote working arrangements for its staff. WIPO also is committed to aligning with fast-evolving medical guidance from Swiss and international health authorities.

An information notice explaining remedies was released by WIPO during the last days when the automatic extension of time limits when a national IP office is not open to the public has included as the key measures. Moreover, the use of electronic communication to minimize the negative effects of possible disruptions in mail or delivery services was advised to the IP owners.


The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO):

The USPTO has determined the Covid-19 to bean "extraordinary situation" within the meaning of 37 CFR 1.183 for affected patent and trademark owners.  With this regard, some of the measures have taken includes:

The USPTO announced that due to the "abundance of caution for the health and safety of the public and USPTO employees", all of its offices will be closed from 16 March 2020 until further notice. Despite this, all USPTO operations "will continue without interruption", with all patent and trademark-related deadlines not extended.
With regard to fees, USPTO has issued another alert and confirmed it is waiving petition fees in certain situations for customers impacted by the coronavirus.
To help users adapt to changing workflows due to the coronavirus outbreak, the USPTO is waiving the requirements of 37 CFR 1.4(e)(1) and (2) for an original handwritten signature for certain correspondence with the Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED) and certain payments by credit card.
The USPTO also announced that, until further notice, any in-person meetings with parties and stakeholders and other scheduled to take place at USPTO offices on or after March 13, 2020, will be conducted remotely by video or telephone. 

European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO)

The EUIPO  has announced that it will postpone all oral proceedings before its appeals board, and all oral proceedings in the examination and opposition divisions until March 27. The office said it will continue as usual with its other activities in the examination and opposition divisions, as well as in its search division. It added that it will be using this time to "explore options for further facilitating" video conferences in oral proceedings.

All the information regarding the measures has published in a detailed post, includes exactly what matters are covered by the extension (ie, payment of application fees, opposition periods, requests for renewal) and that the new expiry date applicable to them all will be 1 May 2020.

On the other hand, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the General Court of the European Union will only deal with very urgent cases. All other cases already scheduled until March 27 at the ECJ and April 3 at the General Court will be heard at a later date. The filing deadlines for all cases will not change.

The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO)

The KIPO has taken a major step by offering “secure collateral loads for the intellectual property of Coronavirus damages”. According to this, all registers (companies) affected by the virus and those helping to tackle it (through vaccine development, prevention, and diagnosis), will offer to financially support.

Basically,  the registry has assured to “improve the examination and review process of patents, trademarks, and designs” and especially conduct “prompt examination” of any patents linked to the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, “emergency monitoring” is conducting by KIPO on counterfeit goods that could impede the recovery and health of citizens at risk of the virus.

To maintain services during the coronavirus outbreaking, KIPO announced to include extending deadlines for those affected by the virus, granting extensions on a case-by-case basis, and the ability to reinstate IP rights.


China National IP Administration  (CNIPA)

China has adopted its patent and trademark law to the coronavirus. Anyone in China who would miss the deadlines with regard to patents or even trademarks due to the coronavirus can apply for restoration of their rights.

According to CNIPA, there are basically two ways of restoring one’s rights for patents, utility models and designs if deadlines have been missed. From a brand protection perspective, CNIPA extended deadlines for any trademark applicant or registrant affected by the coronavirus outbreak. With this regard, any time limits for trademark-related matters can be suspended from when a user “was hospitalized or isolated after being infected with the novel coronavirus” or from that date that any business has suspended operations “due to the prevention and control measures”.


Iran IP Office

The Iran IP Office has confirmed it is continuing without service disruption but has decreased its working hours.  Due to the coronavirus outbreak, and in order to prevent the spread of the virus as well, Iran patent office has decided to reduce the number of in-person visits by changing the administrative procedures. Therefore, there is no need for the physical presence of the esteemed applicants in the office to official pay for publishing applications in the national gazette. All these can be feasible electronically.  Moreover, for receiving the patent certificate, it would not necessary to have a physical presence in the office and it also will postpone until April 1st.


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