Announcement Coronavirus - Covid -19

Ian Bartlett | March 2020

We have all been following the news in relation to the rise of COVID-19.   Our clients, whether in the UK, Europe or around the world can have peace of mind knowing that we are ready and set up to ensure we can continue to support you with all your IP needs.

Things are changing quickly.  The EPO and the EUIPO have just announced extensions in most deadlines falling in the current period due to COVID-19.  This may provide a useful backup should it be necessary.

The United Kingdom is not, at present, as severely affected as many countries of continental Europe.  However, this is likely to change over the coming weeks.  Our offices in London and Alicante currently remain open but we have rolled out our remote working facilities to our fee earners and other key personnel and will continue to keep your, and your clients’ rights safe in these challenging times.  Please continue to communicate with our offices and staff in the usual way.

EPO Covid-19 News 
Full details are below, but in summary, the EPO has now announced that most due dates falling within a certain period are to be automatically extended and oral proceedings before the Board of Appeal are to be rescheduled.  The EPO, UKIPO, EUIPO and WIPO remain open for business, but things are far from “as usual”.  The situation is fluid and we will keep you advised of important developments as they happen.  You can keep up to date with developments by following @BeckGreener on Twitter, if you don’t already.

The EUIPO has also just announced some similar changes.

Due Dates
The EPO has very recently announced that most periods expiring on or after 15 March 2020 are extended for all parties and their representatives to 17 April 2020.  This applies also for international applications under the PCT.  The extension period may be further extended by the publication of another Notice in case the current situation extends beyond the aforementioned date.  If you think that you will have trouble meeting a current deadline due to COVID-19 then do get in touch about it.  The recent changes may provide a useful backup on a case by case basis should it be necessary.  In the interest of efficiency we will still, in general, be working towards the unextended due dates.

Board of Appeal - Oral Proceedings
In addition, they have announced that oral proceedings will not be held in the premises of the Boards of Appeal from 16 March 2020 until 27 March 2020. Concerned parties will be contacted accordingly with a communication.
 
Examining Division and Opposition Division - Oral Proceedings
Oral proceedings before examining and opposition divisions will in principle take place as scheduled.  However, there is a general indication from the EPO that flexibility will be applied as regards scheduling or organisation of oral proceedings. 

For example, oral proceedings involving parties or representatives who have recently visited high risk areas will be held by videoconference or postponed, upon request.  In addition, in other cases where the general spread of Coronavirus prevents a party or representative from attending oral proceedings, for instance in case of travel restrictions in companies or patent attorney firms, the EPO will do everything feasible to remove the need for the party or representative to travel to oral proceedings.

Full details of all these updates can be seen on the EPO website.

In general then, although the EPO, UKIPO, EUIPO and WIPO remain open for business, things are far from “as usual”.  The situation is fluid and we will keep you advised of important developments as they happen.  You can keep up to date with developments that by following @BeckGreener on Twitter if you don’t already follow.
 
We wish everyone the best as the world navigates this unusual situation.

If you have any questions or require any further information please contact us.