US and Foreign Patent Office Updates as of March 20, 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 20, 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 extended until 31 March
    • 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 Organization (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
  • European Patent Office (EPO)
    • All deadlines due between March 9 and April 16 are now due April 17
    • 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
  • United Kingdom IP Office (UKIPO)
    • Deadlines extended and IP rights reinstated for those affected by the virus, granting on a case-by-case basis
  • 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)
    • On-site consultations
    • The following are closed or unavailable until further notice
      • Research rooms
      • Information centers
      • Initial consultations for inventors
  • French IP Office (INPI)
    • All buildings closed to the public
  • Czech Republic IP Office (UPV)
    • Open with reduced hours
  • Norway IP Office (NIPO)
    • Customer service centers 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
  • Australian IP Office (IP Australia)
    • 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 16 March until 14 April, 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
  • Saudi Arabia IP Office
    • Suspended operations for at least 16 days from 16 March
  • African Regional IP Office (ARIPO)
    • Discouragement of walk-in enquiries and strongly encourage users to take advantage of the office’s online services and email/phone communications

CENTRAL/SOUTH AMERICA

  • 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