Intellectual Property Offices in Europe and Austria take measures due to COVID-19 outbreak


Europe is in the grip of the COVID-19 virus: Spain has declared a state of emergency and Germany is also taking restrictive measures against the spread of the corona virus. Now the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), European Patent Office (EPO) and Austrian Patent Office are implementing measures as well.

The Executive Director of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), based in Alicante, has arranged home office for all employees. It was also announced that all deadlines that would expire between 9 March and 30 April 2020 would be extended until 1 May 2020. In practice, this means that the deadlines will be extended until Monday 4 May 2020, since Friday 1 May 2020 is a public holiday.

The European Patent Office (EPO), based in Munich, also takes measures on continuation of time limits. Time limits that would expire between 16 March and 16 April 2020 will be extended until 17 April 2020. This applies both to time limits concerning European patents and to time limits concerning international patents under the PCT.

Both the EUIPO as well as the EPO announce that business operations will be maintained as far as possible. This means that applications for EU trademarks, European and international patents and designs can still be filed and will continue to be processed by the respective office.

The Austrian Patent Office (ÖPA) has also announced that any time limits in proceedings pending before the Patent Office, e.g. time limits for statements of opinion in response to official notices, will be extended ex officio by further two months without the need of the involved party to apply for a further extension of time limits separately.

However, as things stand at present, any other time limits arising directly from the law (e.g. time limits for filing remedies or for paying annual fees) will not be extended. The Federal Government of Austria is now preparing an Act to extend any time periods until 30 April 2020. The regulation would also affect time periods in nullity proceedings before the Austrian Patent Office as well as the Vienna Higher Regional Court and the Supreme Court. Please note that this Act is not in force yet.

The Intellectual Property team of CMS remains fully available to all right holders to manage their IP portfolios, as well as to apply for new intellectual property rights despite the outbreak of COVID-19.