As local and national governments take measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, trademark owners are facing potential difficulties with meeting prosecution and dispute deadlines. The closure of offices, retail locations, and limited access to information create obstacles with the prosecution, maintenance, and enforcement of marks. Moreover, the closure of administrative authorities has, in some cases, prevented the legalization of documents. To address these obstacles, some trademark offices have extended deadlines or offered relief when requested.
By way of example and as of March 20, 2020, the following jurisdictions have announced deadline extensions:
North and Central America
- Canada – all deadlines falling between March 16-March 31, 2020 have been extended to April 1, 2020.
- Mexico – all deadlines between March 18-April 19, 2020 have been extended to April 20, 2020.
- United States – deadlines have not been extended. The USPTO has made several announcements aimed at waiving certain requirements for applicants and owners affected by COVID-19. Some of the provisional measures include in person interviews and PTAB and TTAB oral hearings, as well as other in person meetings to take place at the USPTO on or after Friday, March 13th, 2020 to be conducted remotely by video or telephone. Others allow for a waiver in petition fees in certain situations for customers impacted by Covid-19 and the requirement for an original handwritten signature for certain correspondence.
- Argentina – all deadlines have been suspended until April 3, 2020.
- Brazil – all deadlines falling between March 16-April 13, 2020 have been extended to April 14, 2020.
- EUIPO – all deadlines between March 9-April 30, 2020 have been extended to May 1, 2020.
- Germany – all deadlines set by the trademark office are automatically extended to May 4, 2020. The extension does not apply to deadlines set by law such as priority or opposition deadlines.
- India – all hearings before the Trade Marks registry originally scheduled between March 17-April 15, 2020 have been canceled until further notice. All hearings before the Intellectual Property Appellate Board scheduled from March 18, 2020 onwards have been rescheduled to April 1, 2020 or later.
- Philippines – all deadlines between March 16-April 14, 2020 have been extended to April 15, 2020. All hearings and mediations scheduled during this time have been suspended and will be rescheduled.
Trademark owners should consult with their counsel to confirm deadlines and determine how to address obstacles caused by COVID-19. Arent Fox continues to monitor this matter and will update this alert as developments arise.