Coronavirus: IP Offices in the UK and Europe adapt their processes to ensure protection for trade marks and design rights

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, its effects are having a huge impact on all aspects of business. These effects are widespread and calls for all processes and procedures which have undergone years of scrutiny, debate and analysis to be amended within days.

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Coronavirus: IP Offices in the UK and Europe adapt their processes to ensure protection for trade marks and design rights

The same goes for our Intellectual Property as courts and IP Offices have had to adapt their processes and timeframes for registration, renewal and dispute processing.

EUIPO

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) registers almost 135,000 trade marks a year and offers protection for valid registrations across all EU member states. The protection afforded constitutes a valuable asset for any business holding a registration.

As a result, the EUIPO has extended all time limits for EU trade marks and Community design rights expiring between 9 March 2020 and 30 April 2020 inclusive until 1 May 2020, in the anticipation that communication between the users and the EUIPO will be affected by the pandemic.

The time limits extended relate to all procedural deadlines set out by EUIPO in any proceedings before them, including their boards of appeal, and time limits set out by the EU trade mark and design rights regulations.

The EUIPO has confirmed this extension is automatic if your expiration or deadline falls within these dates and will not require an extension request to be filed, nor will this extension be individually communicated to those effected.

Note that this extension does not cover time limits set out by other Offices, or other proceedings before authorities beyond the scope of the EUIPO. Owners are urged to check their registration and respective Office policies separately to clarify.

UKIPO

The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO), responsible for IP registrations, renewals and challenges to validity in the UK, has taken a similar approach due to the unprecedented disruption to businesses and IP rights holders.

The UKIPO has declared that 24 March 2020 onwards, until further notice, are deemed to be interrupted days.  This means that most deadlines falling due on or after 24 March 2020 will be automatically extended to at least 1 May 2020, including deadlines for trade marks, designs, patents, supplementary protection certificates and applications for these rights.

The UKIPO is urging rights holders to stick to original deadlines where possible and it will review the situation on 17 April 2020, when it will either continue with the period of interruption or announce that the period will end after a further two weeks.

This guidance is valid as of 31 March 2020. All guidelines are subject to change as IP Offices adapt with the fast-moving situation but our specialist teams continue to monitor these changes carefully.

If you would like advice or further clarification on whether your trade marks or design rights will be affected, please contact Carys Thompson on carys.thompson@keebles.com or call Carys on 0114 252 1485

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