In the context of the health emergency and in response to the outbreak of Covid-19, the French Government adopted on March 25, 2020 an ordinance “relating to the extension of deadlines expired during the period of health emergency and to the adaptation of the procedures during this period“.
The ordinance thus provides for a mechanism of deadline extension for all acts and formalities which should have been or should be carried out from March 12, 2020 until one month after the end of the health emergency : the time limit normally provided for is extended so that it begins to run at the end of this period, up to 2 months.
Thus, for example, should the health emergency end on April 15, 2020, all acts and formalities that should have been carried out from March 12 until May 15, 2020 could be carried out :
- until June 15, 2020 if the time limit normally provided for to act was of 1 month ;
- until July 15, 2020 if the time limit normally provided for to act was of 2 months or more.
This mechanism of extension applies, inter alia, in the field of intellectual property and, in particular, before the INPI to the following procedures :
- to oppose to the registration of a trademark;
- to renew a trademark or extend a design and to benefit from the corresponding grace period;
- to make observations as third party or respond to a notification from the INPI;
- to lodge an administrative or judicial appeal;
- to pay a patent annual fee.
To be noted that deadlines falling within the scope of supranational provisions and agreements are not concerned, such as, for example, the priority periods for an international extension of a trademark.
To be also noted that, for consistency, the INPI withdrew the upstream specific measures of extension of the time limits to 4 months it adopted on March 16, 2020.
Warning : it is not a general suspension, interruption or withdrawal of time limits. It means that the acts and formalities expiring during the relevant period – from March 12, 2020 until 1 month after the end of the health emergency – should be carried out by the new deadline, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, may still be carried out even during the relevant period.
The INPI recommends, to the greatest possible extent, to comply with the deadlines initially provided for in order to avoid any further congestion, since its services remain fully accessible and operational and its teams deal with requests through teleworking.
For its part and in such exceptional circumstances, the NF&A Firm also remains involved and is fully available to keep monitoring and managing with ease all the procedures before the INPI.