In accordance with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has extended the time to file certain patent-related documents and pay certain fees that otherwise would have been due on or after March 27, 2020.
On March 13, 2020, the President declared a national emergency under the National Emergencies Act as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Director of the USPTO has determined that the emergency may have prejudiced the rights of patent applicants, patent owners, or others appearing before the USPTO in patent-related matters, and may have prevented them from filing documents with and paying fees to the Office. Among other things, the spread of the virus has significantly disrupted the operations of numerous businesses, law firms, and inventors. Small businesses and independent inventors, who frequently have less access to capital and for whom patent-related fees may constitute a more significant expense, may face particular difficulties. Accordingly, a person who is unable to meet patent-related deadlines due to the COVID-19 outbreak may be eligible for a waiver, as further described below.
While the USPTO remains open for the filing of documents and the payment of fees, the deadlines for the following types of filings may be extended without penalty if the delays are attributable to COVID-19:
- reply to a USPTO notice issued during pre-examination processing* by a small or micro entity;
- reply to a USPTO notice or action issued during examination** or patent publication processing***;
- issue fee;
- notice of appeal;
- appeal brief;
- reply brief;
- appeal forwarding fee;
- request for an oral hearing before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board; and
- maintenance fee, filed by a small or micro entity.
The above list is limited to filings with due dates between March 27 – April 30, 2020. For those filings, the filing date will be extended 30 days from the initial date they were due, provided that the filing is accompanied by a statement that the delay in filing or payment was due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
*This includes, for example, a Notice of Omitted Items, a Notice to File Corrected Application Papers, a Notice of Incomplete Application, a Notice to Comply with Nucleotide Sequence Requirements, a Notice to File Missing Parts of Application, and a Notification of Missing Requirements.
**This includes, for example, an Office Action (either final or non-final) and a Notice of Non-Compliant Amendment.
***This includes, for example, a Notice to File Corrected Application Papers issued by the Office of Data Management.