Due to the impact of COVID-19, several Intellectual Property Offices (IPOs) have announced adapted guidelines and information on the current status of proceedings and deadlines. The following list aims to provide an updated overview on the current status and communication of IPOs in CEE (including the EUIPO, the EPO and the WIPO). We are continuing to monitor the situation and will update the information when available.1 Please note that the list is for guidance purposes only. In view of the rapidly changing developments, please be aware that the information provided might not be entirely up-to-date or comprehensive. The list is not designed to substitute and cannot substitute legal advice tailored to your needs. It is made available strictly on a nonreliance basis.
Administrative deadlines still pending on 16 March have been interrupted until 30 April and started anew on 1 May; the AT IPO may have also set an appropriate new deadline (starting from 1 May) instead. Statutory deadlines (e.g. opposition or priority deadlines, except deadlines pursuant to the Patent Office Fees Act, thus for payment of annuity or renewal fees and deadlines pursuant to EU law) have been interrupted between 16 March and 30 April (i.e. this period is not included in the deadlines). Deadlines for appeals before the Higher Regional Court (OLG) Vienna and the Austrian Supreme Court (OGH) in proceedings originating from the AT IPO not lapsed by 22 March have been The customer service centre physically reopened for its clients on 18 May. Hearings are in general still held on a minimal basis; meetings (e.g. for consultation purposes) are rendered by appointment. Services and consultations are also provided via video-calls (e.g. Skype). The mailbox located at the entrance of the AT IPO remains closed until further notice. It is still recommended for entries to be submitted electronically (see here for the AT IPO's online services) or, if not available (i.e. not feasible, appropriate or reasonable), by mail. 1 The updates are currently published on a monthly basis (next update: beginning of October). 2 interrupted until 30 April and started anew on 1 May. Bosnia & Herzegovina B&H IPI procedural law / deadlines hearings, meetings / further comments notice The B&H IPI is continuing its operations as usual, i.e. no deadline extension/suspension due to COVID-19 is or was implemented. Since 22 May, the B&H IPI is conducting its operations as usual (in full operational power, i.e. full working time with all its employees). Bulgaria BG PTO status: 18 June 2020 procedural law / deadlines hearings, meetings / further comments communication amendment to the Act on the measures and actions during the announced state of emergency From 17 April, all deadlines in proceedings before the BG PTO (including those initially interrupted due to the impact of COVID-19) continued to run. All deadlines in proceedings before the BG PTO to expire between 13 March and until the state of emergency was lifted were extended by one month from the date of the lifting of the state of emergency (14 May), i.e. until 14 June. All trademark, industrial design, patent and other IPR registrations which expired during the state of emergency were extended by one month from the date of the lifting of the state of emergency (14 May), i.e. until 14 June. From 7 April (and until further notice), providing reports on express IPR inquiries are not possible. No communication from the BG PTO. Croatia HR IPO status: 12 June 2020 procedural law / deadlines hearings, meetings / further comments communication Deadlines are not affected in relation to the procedures before the HR IPO. As of 1 June, the HR IPO continues its regular operation and communication with clients in its official premises according to the regular operating time. All actions in the process of registering IP rights, including subsequent submissions, may be filed to the HR IPO using e-Application and via the website e-Citizen. 3 Czech Republic CZ IPO procedural law / deadlines hearings, meetings / further comments communication opinion On 12 March, the government declared a state of emergency that ended on 17 May. Deadlines were not extended during the state of emergency, but failure to act can be excused, unless expressly excluded by law. In proceedings before the CZ IPO, waivers are often explicitly excluded. If the participant in proceedings has a data mailbox for electronic communication with public authorities, the state of emergency is not a sufficient reason for a waiver without further evidence. Contact is preferred in writing, by electronic means or via telephone. EPO European Patent Office procedural law / deadlines hearings, meetings / further comments communication notice of 27 May concerning the disruptions due to the COVID-19 outbreak notice concerning the extension of periods for the payment of fees decision of the Administrative Council of 28 May temporarily suspending the application of Rule 51 (2) EPC notice of 29 May concerning the temporary suspension of the application of Rule 51 (2) EPC with respect to an additional fee for the late payment of renewal fees for a patent application FAQ – disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic: remedies in case of nonobservance of periods information of 29 July on oral proceedings before Deadlines expiring on or after 15 March were extended until 2 June. The extension of deadlines also applied to periods for paying fees, including renewal fees. As of 1 June, it is possible to pay renewal fees due on or after 15 March up until 31 August inclusive without being charged the additional fee under Rule 51 (2) European Patent Convention. As regards deadlines that expired before 15 March as well as deadlines expiring after 2 June, the EPO has facilitated the use of legal remedies for users located in areas still directly affected by disruptions due to COVID-19. Oral proceedings in opposition scheduled until 31 December are postponed until further notice, unless they are confirmed (i.a. also with the consent of the parties concerned) to take place by means of videoconferencing. The EPO intends to maintain oral proceedings in opposition scheduled to take place on the premises of the EPO on or after 4 January 2021 (1 January being a public holiday i.a. in Germany and The Netherlands followed by a weekend). Oral proceedings in examination will continue to be held by videoconference. As of 18 May, oral proceedings before the Boards of Appeal are held – to a limited extent – at their premises in Haar as well as (due to a limited number of rooms suitable for physical distancing in the premises in Haar) in the Isar building in Munich, Germany. However, such hearings may also be conducted by videoconferencing technology if agreed by the parties concerned. Specific regime for parties unable to attend oral proceedings and restrictions as to physical presence are in place. Documents filed during telephone consultations and during interviews and oral proceedings held by videoconference must be filed by e-mail (i.e. the possibility of filing by fax during videoconferences was again removed). EPO organised live events scheduled until 31 December are expected to take place online, unless indicated otherwise. examination and opposition divisions as from 15 September decision of the president of the EPO dated 1 April c