Intellectual Property Extensions Due to COVID-19 Ending in Many Countries Raising Concerns of a Potential Flood of Filings for Patent and Trademark Owners to Navigate

May 28, 2020

Deadline suspensions by intellectual property offices around the world are rapidly coming to a close. Many of these extensions, including in the United States, Brazil, Canada, and other countries, were granted after the COVID-19 pandemic closed governmental offices and served as the basis for unprecedented relief from otherwise firm statutory deadlines for patent and trademark filings.

The passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”) on March 27, 2020, gave the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) the unprecedented ability to modify certain patent and trademark deadlines during the health emergency. In the United States, June 1, 2020 was previously announced as the key deadline suspension date, as discussed in a previous alert. This deadline was just extended to July 1, 2020, but only for small and micro entities, with the date remaining as June 1, 2020 for large entities. Similarly, in mid-May the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office (“BPTO”) prolonged its suspension of all processes until May 31, 2020. Many other countries also had previously indicated similar dates for the proposed suspensions to end, as discussed here. Those dates are approaching quickly, with no indication that they will be further extended.

In contrast, Canada’s Intellectual Property Office (“CIPO”) had previously extended deadlines to June 1, 2020, but recently announced that it is further extending all patent and trademark deadlines between March 16, 2020 and June 12, 2020, to June 15, 2020. Whether the CIPO will grant a further extension is, of course, unknown.

Importantly, regardless of the end date in any particular country, whenever the applicable suspension of deadlines is exhausted, there may be a flood of filings on that date in that country. Navigating around unforeseen delays, both due to overloaded computer systems and potentially overworked personnel at the USPTO, BPTO, CIPO, or other agencies, will be a new challenge that the intellectual property attorneys at Lewis Rice are ready to handle.

As we repeatedly remind our clients, there can be significant consequences of missing intellectual property deadlines. We urge you to contact a member of Lewis Rice’s Intellectual Property Group as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are maintained.