Coronavirus COVID-19 – Measures taken by our patent law firm and the individual patent offices in order to tackle the challenges posed by the current situation
Due to the worsening situation of the COVID-19 pandemic (Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2), we would like to inform you about the measures our intellectual property office is taking in order to protect the well-being of our employees and clients and to ensure the continued functioning of our office.
Measures taken by our patent law firm
It goes without saying that we keep up-to-date with the latest recommendations of the Robert-Koch-Institute, the World Health Organization as well as with the government’s instructions. This results in a reassessment of our measures on a daily basis. This daily reassessment means that we might have to adjust our measures in the course of time. Of course, we will keep you informed about possible changes on our homepage.
Due to school closures and for the purpose of reducing personal contacts as well as in anticipation of a possible future curfew decreed by the government, we have set up additional home offices for all of our employees. However, as long as it is not absolutely necessary, our office will not operate exclusively via remote control. Instead, we have implemented a mixture between home office and on-site work.
In order to maintain the quality and continuity of our services in the event that our freedom of mobility is restricted or the current situation worsens, we have devised an emergency plan for our firm’s central pillars, such as for the departments in charge of incoming mail, deadlines and annuities.
In general, you can reach us through the usual channels. Nevertheless, we would like to ask you to limit the communication with our office, if possible, to email. This allows us to reduce our response times and to facilitate our internal workflows. If you should not be able to reach the desired contact person by phone due to our home office arrangement, please rest assured that the contact person in question will call you back as soon as possible.
In line with our government’s latest recommendations, all not strictly necessary travel activities have been temporarily cancelled. To reduce the risk of contagion, we have decided to forego personal meetings with clients for the time being. Personal consultations can take place via phone call or by the means of videoconferencing.
In the meantime, the patent and trademark offices have also reacted to the corona crisis and have published the following special regulations concerning official deadlines:
German Patent and Trademark Office (GPTO)
- With regard to all pending IP procedures, time limits granted by the German Patent and Trademark Office were extended until May 04, 2020, and no decision will be made because of the expiration of any time limit. Separate notices concerning the extensions of time limits will not be issued. In addition, the time limits to be set by the German Patent and Trademark Office will be as generous as the situation requires.
- The GPTO cannot extend time limits specified by law. Any person who through no fault of his own was prevented from observing a time limit due to the current situation, may request a re-establishment of the rights. The unit in charge will check in the individual case whether the conditions relating thereto are met. If special circumstances prevented you from observing a time limit, it will be necessary to provide documentation outlining these circumstances. In such a case, please contact us as soon as possible so that we can prepare and initiate all necessary steps.
- Starting on March 18, 2020, the counter for the document receiving service and the payment office at all GPTO locations were closed. We communicate with the GPTO and pay official fees almost exclusively by electronic means. Thus, we can continue to process your cases before the GPTO despite the closure of the counters.
- Concerning hearings and oral proceedings, GPTO has decided the following:
- Summons to appear in hearings or oral proceedings will no longer be issued, whether the proceedings are unilateral or multilateral.
- Hearings and oral proceedings that have been scheduled will not take place before 30 June 2020 and are cancelled ex officio. Cancellation ex officio will be notified in writing.
European Patent Office (EPO)
- All deadlines which expire from March 15, 2020, onwards, will be automatically extended to June 2, 2020.
- If the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak extend beyond June 2, 2020, EPO will publish a further notice.
- EPO has decided to postpone until further notice all oral proceedings in examination and opposition proceedings scheduled until September 14, 2020, unless they have already been confirmed to take place by means of videoconferencing.
- Oral proceedings before the Boards of Appeal will not be held before May 15, 2020.
European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO)
All time limits expiring between March 09, 2020, and May 17, 2020, were extended until May 18, 2020.
World Intellectual Property Organization (Hague Agreement concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs and Madrid Protocol concerning the International Registration of Marks)
- The general rules concerning the remedies available in case of failure to meet a time limit apply: Holders or applicants who, due to a malfunction of the mail delivery services and the electronic communication, fail to meet a prescribed time limit for a communication addressed to the International Bureau may be excused if that communication is sent within five days after the (electronic) mail or delivery service is resumed. In this regard, WIPO explicitly mentions the COVID-19 pandemic or measures taken in connection with it, such as a lockdown, temporary closure of business, quarantine or self-isolation, which may cause a malfunction of the mail delivery services. In any case, within six months, users must provide for the communication in question satisfactory evidence of the malfunctioning mail delivery service as well reasons why the time limit was not met.
- With regard to trademark matters and in case holders or applicants fail to meet certain time limits, the International Bureau draws attention to the possibility to request continued processing within two months from the date on which the above-mentioned time limits expired. Continued processing may be requested without giving any reason or providing any evidence and only requires the payment of the prescribed fee.
- The International Bureau further states that time limits which expire on a day on which an IP Office is not open to the public would expire on the first subsequent day on which that IP Office reopened.
Madrid Information Notice No. 7/2020
Other patent and trademark offices
The German research company SMD Group has published an overview of the regulations and measures taken by various patent and trademark offices on the following website*:
*) (We cannot assume responsibility for the accuracy of the information.)
Our team at LBP wishes you, your families and your employees the very best – and please, stay healthy!
In case you have any further questions, we will be glad to assist you.