The Covid-19 outbreak which spreads constantly and rapidly throughout the world has led organisms and institutions to take specific measures or to recall their rules in order to preserve the rights of all persons. It is in particular the case for the EUIPO and WIPO.
1/ The EUIPO :
In its decision No.EX-20-3 of March 16, 2020, the European Office has considered that the Covid-19 constitutes an exceptional occurrence disrupting significantly communications and that this disruption justifies the extension until May 1, 2020 of “all time limits expiring between 9 March and 30 April 2020 inclusive that affect all parties in proceedings before the Office“.
In practice, all time limits are extended until May 4, 2020 since May 1 is a public holiday followed by a weekend. The extension is automatic and does not require the filing of any particular request to this effect.
The measure applies literally to all procedural deadlines, whether they are deadlines set by the instances of the Office or are statutory deadlines resulting from the Regulations, the Paris Convention or other International Treaties.
It however relates only to proceedings (i) before the Office, and not before other authorities, and (ii) regarding trademark and design matters.
Nevertheless, it is still possible – or even recommended in order to avoid saturation at the beginning of May – to comply with the deadlines initially set out. In such a case, the procedure will take its usual course and any documents filed will be examined in the regular manner.
2/ WIPO :
For its part, WIPO has pointed out, in its information notice No.7/2020 of March 19, 2020, that :
- time limits are automatically extended in case an office is not open to the public: thus, a period that expires on a day on which an office is not open to the public would expire on the first subsequent day on which that office reopened ;
- the failure to meet a time limit for a communication addressed to WIPO may be excused should the communication be addressed within 5 days after regaining access to mail or delivery services or to electronic communication, within a limit of 6 months. Sufficient evidence of the reason given must however be provided for WIPO to excuse the failure to meet the time limit.
In addition, WIPO strongly encourages the use of electronic communication to mitigate the effects of possible disruptions in mail or delivery services.
Despite these quite exceptional circumstances, the NF&A Firm remains fully available and keeps monitoring and managing without any interruption all procedures relating to intellectual property, in particular before the EUIPO and WIPO.