April 22, 2020

Business alert: COVID-19 and intellectual property

The Intellectual Property (Unjustified Threats) Bill

Below is a snapshot of some of the changes that have taken place closer to home that businesses and rights holders should be aware of.

The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO)

The IPO has said that it will take whatever measures it can to support rights applicants and their attorneys who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Extensions to deadlines

The IPO has declared that the 24 March and subsequent days until further notification are deemed 'interrupted days'. The effect of this is that any deadline in relation to patents, supplementary protection certificates, trade marks and designs, including applications for such rights, will be extended to the next non-interrupted day – essentially relaxing the requirement to meet certain deadlines. The IPO reviewed the position on the 17 April and will provide at least two weeks' notice before ending the interrupted days period.

Despite the period of interruption the IPO is encouraging adherence to existing deadlines wherever possible.

Note that this does not apply to time periods set out under the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) Madrid system where the UKIPO may be acting as a Receiving Office.


The IPO is currently unable to process paper forms, faxes and paper correspondence. At Royds Withy King we already make use of the digital filing options wherever possible, but clients should be aware that if they are filing applications themselves via post, these documents will not be processed until normal services are resumed at the IPO. However the date of receipt will be given as a provisional filing date in due course.

Where there is no existing digital filing option for services the IPO has created the following email address which can be used instead of faxing or posting documents: [email protected]

The European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO)

The EUIPO is, as far as possible, continuing with business as usual. As it currently stands all trade mark and design applications will continue to be received, examined and published, and the EUIPO will continue to send communications and set deadlines.

Extensions to deadlines

The EUIPO has acknowledged the "exceptional occurrence" of the coronavirus outbreak, and the effect this has had on communications between parties the EUIPO. As a result, all time limits expiring between the 9 March 2020 and the 30 April 2020 inclusive that affect all parties in proceedings before the EUIPO (including payment of fees, priority claims, opposition periods, opposition fees, renewals, appeals and conversions) are extended until 1 May 2020, although in practice this means that time limits are extended until Monday 4 May as Friday 1 May is a public holiday.

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