On April 28, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued official Patent and Trademark notices announcing that it will be further extending certain patent and trademark deadlines that fall between March 27 and May 31, to June 1, 2020 in accordance with the agency’s temporary authority under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The notices supersede the notices previously posted by the USPTO on March 31 and March 16, 2020.
Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, noted that “[i]nnovation and entrepreneurship will play a key role in our fight against this pandemic, and in the upcoming recovery of our country…accordingly, the USPTO continues to assess measures to support the work of inventors and entrepreneurs during this crisis and beyond.”
In particular, both the Patent notice and the Trademark notice explained that certain responses and fees “due between, and inclusive of both, March 27, 2020, and May 31, 2020, will be considered timely if filed on or before June 1, 2020.” The filing or payment must be accompanied by a statement that the delay in filing or payment was “due to the COVID-19 outbreak”, which is defined as a situation where “a practitioner, applicant, patent owner, petitioner, third-party requester, inventor, or other person associated with the filing or fee was personally affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, including, without limitation, through office closures, cash flow interruptions, inaccessibility of files or other materials, travel delays, personal or family illness, or similar circumstances, such that the outbreak materially interfered with timely filing or payment.”
The Patent Notice called out a number of responses and fee deadlines that may be extended including responses to office actions, payments of issue fees, filings of notices of appeal and reply briefs, and payments of maintenance fees. The Patent Notice outlined additional relief for proceedings before the PTAB including “a 30-day extension of time for a patent owner preliminary response in a trial proceeding under 37 C.F.R. §§ 42.107 or 42.207, or any related responsive filings.”
The Trademark Notice specifically noted several situations where the extension will apply including filing of responses to office actions, filings of notices of appeal, filing statements of use, and filing notices of opposition. The Trademark Notice further explained that a request or motion for an extension or reopening of time may be filed in other situations where the COVID-19 outbreak has prevented or interfered with a filing before the Board.
Both the Patent and Trademark Notices stated that the USPTO is open for the filing of patent and trademark documents and fees. Further, the Office noted that it “will continue to evaluate the evolving situation around the COVID- 19 outbreak and the impact on the USPTO’s operations and stakeholders.”