USPTO, Copyright Office Waives Deadlines During COVID-19

By Britain Eakin
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Law360 (March 27, 2020, 6:15 PM EDT) -- The $2 trillion coronavirus rescue bill signed by President Donald Trump on Friday will temporarily allow the U.S. Copyright Office to push back filing and procedural deadlines for copyrights to alleviate the effects of the pandemic on agency operations.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act includes a section that gives temporary authority to the register of copyrights to "toll, waive, adjust or modify" filing deadlines on a temporary basis to mitigate the disruption caused by the COVID-19 emergency.

Under the Cares Act, the register of copyrights can take such action if it's determined by Dec. 31 that the pandemic will generally disrupt or suspend the copyright system's functioning.

Earlier this month, the Copyright Office, which is housed in the U.S. Library of Congress, shuttered its doors to the public and issued temporary rules with regard to electronic applications for copyright registration that need to be quickly processed.

Under the rules, individuals filing their applications online can submit an electronic deposit of their work if a physical version is required with the applications, the office said. Examiners working remotely will then review the claims within five business days.

The Copyright Office said it will be closed to the public until April 1, and also announced it will send refusal letters by email instead of through the U.S. mail.

The Cares Act, which passed the Senate on Wednesday and the House on Friday, also contains a provision allowing the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office director to push back filing deadlines for patents and trademarks.

The new measures will take effect when the legislation is enacted, and will last for 60 days after the end of the renewable emergency period that began March 13. The director's authority will expire two years following the enactment of the bill, according to the text.

--Additional reporting by Stephen Cooper and Tiffany Hu. Editing by Stephen Berg.

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