Law360 (March 16, 2020, 1:30 PM EDT) -- The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Monday suggested that it can’t move filing deadlines during the COVID-19 pandemic — unlike its European counterpart — but eased the burden on those who miss certain deadlines by waiving revival petition fees.
The USPTO said it will waive revival petition fees for those whose patent applications were deemed abandoned or had reexamination proceedings terminated when the effects of the outbreak led to a deadline being missed. The waiver will likewise apply to those whose trademark applications were labeled abandoned or whose registrations were canceled or expired based on missed deadlines.
This only applies to deadlines for responding to USPTO communications, not statutory filing deadlines, and the petition must explain how the delay was tied to the outbreak.
The agency noted that the fees are based on regulations, unlike the statute-based deadlines.
The European Patent Office on Monday said it will be pushing back all deadlines to April 17 at the earliest. That agency has said oral proceedings at its appeal board won't be held in person until after March 27, and other divisions' oral proceedings will take place over video or be postponed.
In addition to the fee notice, the USPTO said Sunday that it’s officially closed to the public, allowing access only to employees, contractors and those with access cards. On Friday, it had called off face-to-face meetings between applicants and patent and trademark examiners, along with hearings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board and Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. Instead, teleconferences or phone calls are set to become the norm.
Likewise, the U.S. International Trade Commission has previously said it’s postponing all in-person hearings in Section 337 intellectual property cases scheduled to take place for two months, but that cases will proceed otherwise. The U.S. Copyright Office has said it will be closed to the public until at least April 1.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health officials have been calling for people to avoid large gatherings and being in public. That's in an effort to minimize people's exposure to the virus, so hospitals and providers aren't overwhelmed with too many cases at once, and reduce risks for high-risk people.
--Additional reporting by Ryan Davis. Editing by Alyssa Miller.
Clarification: This story has been updated to clarify when this waiver applies.
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