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Litigation, Intellectual Property and COVID-19

Mar 27, 2020

As the world continues to deal with the outbreak of COVID-19, we look at the measures taken by our Courts and Intellectual Property Offices to tackle the practical effects the virus is having on working life:

The EU IPO

  • The European Intellectual Property Office has taken decisive action by extending all time limits expiring between 9 March 2020 and 30 April 2020 to 1 May 2020. In practice, this means that these deadlines have been extended until Monday 4 May 2020 because Friday 1 May 2020 is a public holiday in various European territories.
  • The extension is automatic (it does not need to be applied for) and applies to all EU IPO deadlines, including those relating to renewals, oppositions and ongoing proceedings.
  • Likewise, the European Patent Office has announced that all deadlines for patent matters will be extended until 17 April 2020 (see here).

The UK IPO

  • The UK Intellectual Property Office has today announced that it has declared 24 March 2020, and subsequent days until further notice, as “interrupted days”. Any deadlines for patents, SPCs, trade marks and designs (and all applications for the same) which fall on an interrupted day will now be extended until the UK IPO notifies the end of the interrupted days period.
  • The office has, however, asked all rights holders and IP professionals to continue to file as normal where possible.

The European Courts

  • The Court of Justice has announced that judicial activity will continue, but priority will be given to those cases which are urgent.
  • Procedural time limits for instituting proceedings and lodging appeals continue to run and parties are required to comply with those time limits as normal.
  • However, by contrast, all deadlines prescribed in other ongoing proceedings have been automatically extended by one month with effect from 19 March 2020.

The UK Courts

  • It is business as usual for the UK Civil Courts as things stand. The latest guidance can be found here.
  • Arrangements have been made to allow hearings to take place remotely by telephone, video or other technological means where possible.

Obviously, the pandemic is very fast moving, and it may be that this article is overtaken by events shortly after it is published! Therefore, all those involved should continue to keep an eye on the relevant guidance published by each of the above entities as the situation continues to develop.

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