Your U.S. Patent and Trademark Deadlines May Change Based on COVID-19

April 29, 2020

Inventors, businesses, and other patent and trademark owners may now be able to obtain relief for a variety of U.S. intellectual property deadlines if and only if impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) just announced that many (but not all) patent and trademark deadlines between March 27, 2020, and May 31, 2020 will be considered timely if filed on or before June 1, 2020, upon the intellectual property owner’s confirmation to the USPTO that a filing or payment delay is due to COVID-19. This is significantly more restrictive than universal extensions granted in other countries, but also an important benefit if your business is truly affected by COVID-19.

The ability to extend deadlines is brand-new authority granted to the USPTO by the CARES Act, as the USPTO was previously unable to move statutory deadlines. Based on this new authority, the USPTO immediately acted to give relief from certain deadlines provided that the patent and trademark applicants and registrants certify that their filing or payment delay was due to office closures, cash flow interruptions, inaccessibility of files or other materials, travel delays, or personal or family illness related to COVID-19. 

The new guidance from the USPTO is detailed, legalistic, and complicated, and may not apply to an individual patent or trademark owner’s situation. Moreover, this guidance does not give IP owners unlimited ability to avoid or miss critical deadlines for convenience’s sake. We at Lewis Rice are available to talk you through this new deadline relief to determine whether it might apply to you or your business and how Lewis Rice can best help you meet your intellectual property needs.