Ashley BarendseBy Ashley Barendse

Barendse is an attorney providing client counseling on trademark registration issues

[3.17.2020 Leesburg]   Uncertainty stemming from COVID-19, a strain of the novel coronavirus, is affecting everything from grocery store shelves to the legal system.  

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”)

On March 15, 2020, the USPTO advised that its office is closed to the public. Only employees and those with badges can access the building at this time. Any Trademark Trial and Appeal Board and Patent Trademark Trial and Appeal Board hearings will be held via video or telephonically, along with examiner interviews. 

As of the date of this writing, deadlines have not been extended for any matters, however, the USPTO is presently considering whether to waive the reinstatement fee for lapsed applications.   

International Intellectual Property Bodies

Likewise, international trademark, patent or copyright owners may also be affected by the coronavirus. The European Patent Office (“EPO”) is extending all deadlines for that office until May 1, 2020, based on the ongoing effects of the virus. The UK Intellectual Property Office (“UK IPO”) is willing to consider extensions of time or an extension of deadlines when requested or allowed by law. The World Intellectual Property Organisation (“WIPO”) has barred the public from its building but says applications filed via its IP Services are “not affected” by coronavirus. In perhaps the biggest step, the Korean Intellectual Property Office (“KIPO”) advised businesses that are both affected by the coronavirus and attempting to tackle it (think vaccination research and development) should seek an intellectual property security loan offered by one of the seven commercial banks. It also advised that it would speed up the review of patents linked to the coronavirus.  

Counterfeit products related to the coronavirus continue to be a concern for worldwide enforcement as the virus – and the concerns surrounding it – continues to spread.

Federal and State Courts

Federal Courts, including Courts of Appeals, have mostly suspended jury trials and grand juries currently. 

However, these steps are taken at an individual level; there has been no overriding “rule” for how courts should proceed at this time. State courts are also facing an individual decision, with some counties (such as Fairfax County and Loudoun County in Virginia) halting all trials currently, while others remain open as normal. Many court websites advise any visitors to call the courthouse to ensure the court is open before arriving. The Supreme Court has suspended all oral arguments through April 1, citing precedents from the Spanish flu epidemic (1918) and yellow fever outbreaks (1793 and 1798).

DBL Offices

While these times may seem uncertain, the lawyers at Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig maintain their commitment to doing better law and to help you navigate the new complexities surrounding this illness and the Intellectual Property (IP) legal climate at large. Our attorneys are committed to serving you without interruption. While some attorneys and staff are exercising their ability to work remotely, they are doing so with full access to the server and client files with appropriate security measures in place. DBL’s highest priority is the safety of its clients and employees. Its physical offices remain open for business at this time, but should that change, our commitment remains to ensure your matters are met with the attention they deserve.  

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Posted in: Announcements, Intellectual Property, Intellectual Property - Patents, Intellectual Property - Trademarks