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Intellectual Property Updates for COVID-19
March 16, 2020
On March 15, 2020, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced its offices will be closed to the public until further notice, "out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of the public and USPTO employees." The closure began Monday, March 16, 2020 until further notice. Offices remain open for employees, contractors, and those with access badges. Unless otherwise notified, USPTO operations will continue without interruption. Patent and trademark application deadlines and other deadlines are not extended. Those with official business with the USPTO should reach out to their points of contact with any questions or through the Contact Us link.

Likewise, out of an abundance of caution, all Library of Congress buildings and facilities are now closed to the public, including researchers and others with reader identification cards, until Wednesday, April 1, 2020 at 8 a.m. to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19. Library employees, contractors, invited and escorted visitors, and other credentialed Capitol Hill staff will continue to have access to the buildings. All Library-sponsored public programs are postponed or cancelled through the end of March. Whenever possible, the Library will reschedule the public programs. The Library has increased cleaning of restrooms, public spaces and elevator lobbies, and has installed additional hand sanitizer stations. The public can of course still access the Copyright Office online resources. Additional information can be found here.

Regarding COVID-19, the European Patent Office ("EPO") on March 12 announced the following precautionary measures:
  • Parties and their representatives are informed that oral proceedings before examining and opposition divisions will in principle take place as scheduled. Those proceedings involving parties or representatives who have recently visited high risk areas will be held by videoconference or postponed, upon request. In other cases where Coronavirus prevents a party or representative from attending oral proceedings, e.g., travel restrictions in companies or patent attorney firms, the EPO will do everything feasible to remove the need for the party or representative to travel to oral proceedings. Oral proceedings by videoconference will be offered in examination and, to the extent possible, in opposition proceedings. Parties should indicate in each particular case which alternative measures they request.
  • Further EPO cancellations include the European qualifying examination ("EQE") for attorney registration scheduled for March 16-19, and may be rescheduled for a later date in 2020. All EPO events that involve more than 50 participants in March and April also have been canceled. "External partners" are requested to abstain from visiting the EPO if they have recently visited a high risk area.
  • All duty travel that was scheduled for March and April was cancelled as of March 5. This includes any travel between EPO sites (except for movements between local offices in Munich). All staff who are currently on duty travel are recommended to return to their usual place of work as soon as reasonably possible. High risk areas are specified as China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, the German Landkreis Heinsberg in Nordrhein-Westfalen, and the French region Grand Est. Patent offices in other countries, e.g., China, Korea, Japan and the International Bureau ("WIPO") may announce closings as well. As of March 16, there were no closings indicated on the respective websites. Patent attorneys and inventors may want to check for specific patent office closures. 
If you need assistance with Intellectual Property matters related to the current Coronavirus pandemic, please feel free to contact us for further updates.
Intellectual Property William P. Smith