COVID-19: Communications from Intellectual Property Offices in Europe

By Dr. Constantin Eikel

03-2020

With COVID-19 active in Europe, several Intellectual Property Offices have announced guidelines on the current status of proceedings and deadlines.

The following list aims to give an updated overview of all communications by the European Intellectual Property Offices. In some cases we expect further clarifications from offices as there is a remaining uncertainty on which deadlines are extended and in some cases for how long they are extended. We will continue to monitor the situation and will provide more information as and when it’s available.

Additionally, most of the court hearings across Europe in IP matters are likely to be postponed. This decision is either made by the presiding judge on a case by case basis or as the result of a centralized decision of the state. Often only hearings in urgent cases continue.

If you’re in need of further advice, please contact Constantin Eikel and he will ensure you are put in touch with the correct lawyer for that jurisdiction of concern.

Please note the list below is for guidance purposes only (and given the very rapid developments might not be entirely up to date) and cannot replace a personal review of deadlines in each country.

Date of last update: 25 March 2020

IPO Comments  Links
Benelux

The Benelux IPO has informed the public as follows:

  • From 16 March 2020, the BOIP will not withdraw any requests or procedures because a given deadline has not been met;
  • Based on the experience and national developments in the coming period, the BOIP will determine a date on which normal work can be resumed in due course (so-called “BAU-Date”);
  • For all requests and proceedings for which time limits have expired between 16 March 2020 and the BAU-Date, or time limits within one month from the BAU-Date, will be granted an additional period of one month. This month will be calculated from the BAU-Date;
  • The BOIP acknowledges that the information in the online register may not be accurate. It can be that the register erroneously mentions registered status of a mark, while the opposition deadline may actually be extended;
  • The BOIP underlines that this communication does not have consequences for actions at the Benelux Court of Justice, including the deadlines for appeal against decisions from the BOIP;
  • The BOIP is not in a position to communicate on a case-by-case basis a new deadline for all requests and procedures;

Lastly, the BOIP also informed us that priority deadlines do not fall under this communication, because they are considered deadlines for other national offices. However, the BOIP is in contact with other Offices for a unified approach.

 Communication
Community Plant Variety Office Please see the communication for details.
Communication
Czech Republic No communication from the IPO.  
Denmark No communication from the IPO.  
 EPO The EPO has updated the previous communication and supplies a daily update website, please see the links. Communication, Summary link of the EPO
EUIPO

All deadlines are extended until 1st of May 2020. We received clarification from the EUIPO that this covers not only deadlines set by the office, but also deadlines by the EUTMR, the EUTMIR or the EUTMDR as well as CDR and CDIR. In particular, all of the following deadlines are covered and extended:

  • Payment of the Application Fee (Article 32 EUTMR)
  • Right of Priority (Article 34(1) EUTMR and Article 41 CDR)
  • Exhibition Priority (Article 38(1) EUTMR and Article 44 CDR)
  • Opposition Period (Article 46(1) EUTMR)
  • Payment of the Opposition Fee (Article 46(3) EUTMR)
  • Request for Renewal (Article 53(3) EUTMR and Article 13 CDR)
  • Filing of an Appeal and of the Statement of Grounds, payment of the Appeal Fee (Article 68 (1) EUTMR and Article 57 CDR),
  • Conversion (Article 139 EUTMR)
  • Deferment of publication of design (Article 50 CDR).

Communication, Press Release                   

Finland No communication from the IPO.  
France No communication from the IPO.  
Germany The IPO has commented that all requests for an extension of a deadline are likely to be granted. Deadlines set by law cannot be extended.  Communication
Hungary Customer service:
As of 16 March 2020 for an indefinite period opening hours are limited to Monday-Thursday between 10:00-12:00.
Queries shall be directed to the HIPO through phone and email. Toll free hotline is introduced.
File inspections are limited, based solely on agreed dates.

Filings:
Primary electronic filing system and post shall be used. There is an automatic docketing machine available 24/7 in the central building of the HIPO.
No personal filings are possible.

Personal consultations with examiners:
The personal consultations are suspended as of 16 March for an indefinite period. Examiners can be reached via phone and e-mail.
 Communication
Italy
  • Suspension for the period between 23 February 2020 and 15 April 2020 of all terms (pending on February 23, 2020 or started after that date) relating to administrative proceedings, at the request of a party or ex officio;

  • Certificates, permits, concessions, authorizations and qualifications (however called), expiring between January 31 and April 15, 2020, will remain valid until June 15, 2020;

  • Proceedings before the IPTO: the Legislative Decree increases the extent of the suspension measures already laid down by the Directorial Decree of March 11, 2020, as it extends the relevant period to all terms falling between 23 February 2020 and April 15, 2020, and also because it applies to all terms of the opposition proceedings (even to those excluded by the Directorial Decree);

  • Proceedings before the Board of Appeal: the suspension does not apply to the terms relating to appeals before the Board of Appeal, as they refer to judicial and non-administrative proceedings;

  • Maintenance or renewal of industrial property rights: industrial property rights expiring between January 31 and April 15 will remain valid until June 15, 2020. After that the owners of the expiring rights have to actively apply to achieve its maintenance or renewal.
 Communication
Poland All hearings on or after 16 March 2020 have been cancelled until further notice.   
Slovakia No communication from the IPO.   
Spain Due to the state of emergency in Spain, all deadlines in administrative proceedings have been suspended until the state of emergency has been lifted. The state of emergency is expected to last at least 15 days. Communication
Switzerland

The Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property has issued a general extension of all terms for all procedures before the Institute until 20 April 2020. Accordingly:

  • any terms set by the Institute ending between 21 March 2020 and 19 April 2020 will expire on 20 April 2020
  • any terms set by the Institute or stipulated by law which are counted in days are suspended until 19 April 2020 and will resume on 20 April 2020
  • any terms already set to end after 19 April 2020 remain unaffected
 
UK The UKIPO will be more lenient in granting extensions of time limits, and there may be options for rights to be restored where a deadline has been missed.  Communication