The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) has announced that deadlines at the office will be extended automatically due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The UKIPO has declared 24 March 2020 and all subsequent days until further notice to be interrupted days. Under the relevant rules, this means that all deadlines which fall on an interrupted day will be extended automatically to the next non-interrupted day. Obviously, we do not know when the next non-interrupted day will be at this stage.
This applies to all deadlines for trade marks, designs, patents and supplementary protection certificates. For the sake of clarity, this applies to all time periods set out in the various relevant UK Acts and Rules and to all non-statutory periods that have been specified by UKIPO staff. However, it is not yet clear quite how some deadlines are going to be extended. For example, in relation to lodging trade mark oppositions, the UKIPO has confirmed that its IT system is currently unable to accept the filing of the online Notice of Threatened Opposition Form (ie TM7A) after the original deadline. The UKIPO is investigating if a fix is possible but at this stage the original deadline needs to be complied with and the Notice of Opposition is likely to need to be filed on the first day of non-interruption.
The UKIPO has confirmed that it will review the situation again after three weeks (17 April 2020) and will either continue the period of interruption or announce that the period will end after a further two weeks. If the latter, it will then mean that all the relevant deadlines will need to be complied with by the end of the two-week period.
The UKIPO still strongly advises users not to wait until the end of the period of interruption and to meet original deadlines wherever possible in order to avoid a surge of work for the office once the interruption ends.
Therefore, we will be working, where possible, to meet original deadlines unless there is a good reason not to do so in order to avoid delays on matters and any unexpected issues relating to the illness.
If you would like to discuss this matter further, please contact Charlene Nelson.
If you have any queries and would like to get in touch with us, a coordinated team of experts are leading our support and can be contacted collectively using our dedicated inbox: [email protected].