01 May IP Business continuity during the pandemic situation caused by COVID-19
We would like to send everyone affected by coronavirus COVID-19 our thoughts and best wishes! We would also like to wish for the continued good health to all of you during this unprecedented outbreak!
While many European countries, including Bulgaria, are facing severe restrictions of public life, the COVID-19 pandemic is increasingly also affecting the patent, trademark and industrial design law systems.
In light of the current pandemic situation, we have immediately taken all the precautionary measures recommended by health organizations and authorities to minimize the risk for our team and to ensure full uninterrupted services for our clients.
K TAHTADJIEV patent bureau continues to be fully operational and provide first-class uninterrupted service as usual. Our systems are safe and reliable and facilitate remote access.
National, regional and international IP offices are taking measures to adapt to the situation as well. Information about the IP offices’ work relevant to the majority of our clients is given below.
BULGARIAN PATENT OFFICE (BPO)
Update as of 09.04.2020
In view of the extension of the declared state of emergency in Bulgaria to 13 May 2020 pursuant to a Decision of the National Assembly (promulgated in the State Gazette No. 33 as of 7 April 2020) and pursuant to the promulgated in the SG No. 34 of 09.04.2020 Law, amending and supplementing the Emergency Measures and Actions Act, the following changes in relation to the proceedings before the Patent Office of the Republic of Bulgaria concerning industrial property objects:
The provision of Art. 3, item 2 of the Act, is amended while the suspension of time limits is limited only to limitation periods and not to “other time limits” set out in normative acts, with the expiry of which are extinguished or acquired rights by the private entities.
The provision of Art. 3, item 3 of the Act is annulled, after which there is no need to suspend time limits for implementation of guidelines, given by an administrative body to parties or participants in proceedings.
On the grounds of §13 of the Closing provisions of the Law, amending and supplementing the Emergency Measures and Actions Act, all time limits under Art. 3, item 2, concerning „other time limits“ in the previous version of the Act and also under the annulled item 3, which have been suspended by the proclamation of the state of emergency, shall continue to run again from 17.04.2020.
If the unexpired by 13.03.2020 part of the time limit expires during the state of emergency and it concerns exercising of rights or execution of obligations of private legal entities, the time limit shall be prolonged pursuant to Art. 4, par. 1, item 1 of the Act, by 1 month as from the date of revocation of the state of emergency.
If the unexpired by 13.03.2020 part of the time limit expires after the revocation of the state of emergency, it is not subject to a prolongation. In addition, please note that all time limits, missed on the occasion of special and unexpected circumstances, can be recovered at the request of the applicant, pursuant to the applicable law, protecting the respective industrial property object.
Previous decision of 24.03.2020
The Bulgarian Patent Office has just announced new measures and suspension of the time limits before it in all proceedings.
In connection with the Act on Measures and Actions during a State of Emergency /the Act/ (promulgated SG 28 of 24.03.2020, effective 13.03.2020), the time limits in respect of the procedures before the Patent Office of Republic of Bulgaria for industrial property objects, according to Art. 3, item 2 and item 3 of the Act shall cease to run from 13 March 2020 until the state of emergency is lifted.
Additionally, all registrations of marks, utility models and designs, patents, certificates of supplementary protection and certificates of a new variety / breed which expire during a state of emergency shall be extended by 1 month after its revocation on the grounds of Art. 4, item 2 of the Act.
The March Official bulleting will be published on 15 April 2020.
As of 10 March, the access to BPO’s premises will be temporarily restricted for visitors, including applicants and IP representatives. Applications may also be submitted through the electronic services, via e-mail, fax or post. Personal issuance or filing of documents is possible under strict precautionary measure at the premises. However, this approach of filing is not recommended by BPO and strongly undesirable.
EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE (EPO)
Update as of 01 May 2020:
Notice from the European Patent Office dated 1 May 2020 concerning the disruptions due to the COVID-19 outbreak, overrules the previous notice from the European Patent Office dated 16 April 2020 concerning the disruptions due to the COVID-19 outbreak – OJ EPO 2020, A43.
In view of the new notice, all time limits expiring on or after 15 March 2020 that affect all parties in proceedings before the EPO, including their representatives, are further extended until 02 June 2020. In accordance with Article 150(2) EPC this applies also for international applications under the PCT. The extension of time limits also applies to periods for paying fees, including EP renewal fees.
Update as of 16 April 2020:
Notice from the European Patent Office dated 16 April 2020 concerning the disruptions due to the COVID-19 outbreak – OJ EPO 2020, A43, overrules the previous notification OJ EPO 2020, A29 of 15 March 2020.
In view of the new notice, all time limits expiring on or after 15 March 2020 that affect all parties in proceedings before the EPO, including their representatives, are further extended until 04 May 2020. In accordance with Article 150(2) EPC this applies also for international applications under the PCT. The extension of time limits also applies to periods for paying fees, including renewal fees.
Previous decision of 15 March 2020
With notice from the European Patent Office dated 15 March 2020 concerning the disruptions due to the COVID-19 outbreak – OJ EPO 2020, A29, the EPO has qualified the situation as general dislocation within the meaning of Rule 134(2) EPC . As a result, periods expiring on or after the 15 March 2020 are thus extended for all parties and their representatives to 17 April 2020.
Significant number of oral proceedings at the EPO have been cancelled, mostly on a case by case basis.
The EPO has decided to postpone until further notice all oral proceedings in examination and opposition proceedings scheduled until 17 April 2020 unless they have already been confirmed to take place by means of videoconferencing.
Oral proceedings will not be held before the Boards of Appeal until 17 April 2020. Concerned parties will be contacted accordingly with a communication.
All EPO’s organised events taking place in March, April and May have been postponed.
More details can be obtained through the official website of EPO here.
EUROPEAN UNION INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OFFICE (EUIPO)
Update as of 29 April 2020:
A DECISION No EX-20-4 of the Executive Director of the Office of 29 April 2020 concerning the extension of time limits, overrules the previous Decision No. EX 20-3 dated 16 March 2020.
In view of the new decision, all time limits expiring between 1 May 2020 and 17 May 2020 inclusive that affect all parties in proceedings before the EUIPO are extended until 18 May 2020.
Previous decision of 16 March 2020
A Decision No EX-20-3 of the Executive Director of the EUIPO has extended time limits expiring between 9 March 2020 and 30 April 2020, in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Decision extends until 1 May (in practice 4 May, since 1 May is a public holiday, and 2 and 3 May are Saturday and Sunday respectively) all time limits expiring between 9 March and 30 April 2020 inclusive that affect all parties in proceedings before the Office.
The extension of time limits granted by the Executive Director has the immediate effect of preventing the deadlines concerned from lapsing when they were originally due, and of setting a new expiry date applicable to all, namely the 1 May 2020 (in practice, 4 May).
This effect is automatic and derives directly from the Decision of the Executive Director. Accordingly, affected parties are not required to file a request to the Office for the extension of the time limit to take effect.
Parties to ongoing proceedings are therefore advised not to lodge unnecessary requests for extension.
We will of course continue to monitor the situation closely and will keep the above informed updated, as appropriate.