For The 3rd Time, USPTO Extends Deadlines Due To Virus

By Mike LaSusa
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Law360 (May 27, 2020, 11:26 PM EDT) -- The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the third time Wednesday has extended certain patent and trademark filing deadlines with the aim of accommodating those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

USPTO Director Andrei Iancu said small and micro entities now have until July 1 to make filings that otherwise would have been due by June 1.

"After May 31, 2020, large entities should seek relief on a case-by-case basis, through the filing of a petition for an extension of time or a petition to revive, accompanied by any required fee," Iancu said.

The USPTO also issued a separate announcement describing how trademark applicants and registrants could deal with logistical complications created by the virus outbreak.

The new announcements come roughly a month after the USPTO had extended certain patent and trademark filing deadlines until June 1. The April announcement pushed back deadlines for which the office had already announced extensions in March.

Many deadlines for patent and trademark filings are governed by statute and typically cannot be extended by the USPTO. However, the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act granted the office temporary authority to extend the deadlines during the crisis.

Attorneys told Law360 that the deadline extensions will be useful for many companies and firms whose business has been disrupted by the crisis, while others are likely to continue making an effort to get filings in on time and obtain their patents and trademark as quickly as possible.

The office outlined broad parameters to file a delay due to the pandemic.

Those parameters cover situations in which the filer or attorney or their family is "personally affected" by the outbreak, such that it "materially interfered" with their ability to meet the deadline. This includes illness, delays in the ability to meet deadlines caused by office closures, cash flow interruptions, inaccessibility of files.

When the pandemic began, the USPTO waived other requirements that didn't require congressional approval, including certain fees to file petitions seeking to revive patent and trademark applications abandoned based on missed deadlines.

The office has also called off face-to-face meetings between applicants and patent and trademark examiners, along with hearings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board and the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. The USPTO closed its offices to the public last month.

--Additional reporting by Ryan Davis. Editing by Michael Watanabe.

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