COVID-19 Update


Forresters is fully operational and working remotely.

Our practice teams for EPO, EUIPO, DPMA, UKIPO & WIPO prosecution, oppositions and appeals have the resources and support they need to fully service our clients.

We continue to follow the advice from the UK and German governments to support the measures being taken to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The respective IPOs have put in place various COVID measures.  Below is a summary of the primary measures but please consult with your normal Forresters contact regarding any scheduled filings or upcoming deadlines due in the COVID period as not all deadlines are being extended – please use email communication.

Bookmark this page for the latest COVID measures from the IPOs.

Forresters’ practice teams are working to meet all current deadlines and will only make use of the additional time provided by the IPOs’ COVID measures if the situation requires that.

EPO (European Patent Office)

EPO Filings and submissions: Forresters’ EPO online filing resources and back-ups are operational and we are filing as normal.  The EPO’s search, examining and opposition divisions are continuing with their activities.

Time limits: The EPO has advised that some deadlines expiring on or after 15 March 2020 are automatically extended to 17 April 2020.

Renewal fees due 31 March 2020: The due date for renewal fees falling due on 31 March 2020 is deferred to 20 April 2020.

Important: This COVID extension will NOT extend all deadlines (examples of non-extended deadlines: EP divisional filing, filing some written submissions) so please consult with your Forresters attorney if you have any concerns about meeting imminent upcoming deadlines.

Hearings: The EPO has postponed all examination and opposition oral proceedings (OPs) scheduled up to 30 April 2020 unless they have already been confirmed to take place by means of videoconferencing.

Change of practice: Examining Division OPs are to be held by videoconference and no longer on EPO premises unless there are serious reasons against holding the oral proceedings by videoconference such as, in particular, the need to take evidence directly. The President of the EPO’s decision looks set to persist post-COVID. The decision entered into force on 2 April 2020 and applies to oral proceedings before examining divisions where the summons is dated on or after 2 April 2020.

Boards of Appeal: Oral proceedings will not be held in the premises of the Boards of Appeal until 17 April 2020.

EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office)

EUIPO is responsible for EU trade marks and designs

Time limits: an official communication (available here, with guidance and clarifications here) has been issued, extending ‘all time limits’ expiring between 9 March and 30 April, to 1 May 2020.  In practice, this extended deadline will be Monday 4 May, because 1 May is a public holiday, followed by a weekend.

This automatic extension applies to all procedural deadlines, irrespective of whether they have been set by the EUIPO or are statutory in nature.

Hearings: these are extremely rare at the EUIPO (both at first instance and on appeal), and no specific COVID guidance has been issued, as yet.  In the unlikely event that you have a hearing scheduled, but have not yet heard from your usual Forresters attorney, please contact them as soon as possible for an update.

UK IPO (UK Intellectual Property Office)

Time limits: The UK IPO have declared that 24 March 2020 and all subsequent days until further notice are “interrupted days”.  Any deadlines for: UK patents; UK supplementary protection certificates; UK trade marks; and UK designs and applications for these rights, which fall on an interrupted day will be extended until the UK IPO notifies the end of the interrupted days period.

The UK IPO will review the situation on 17 April 2020 and either continue with the period of interruption or announce that the period will end after a further two weeks.

Filings: We have access to all the usual UK IPO online filing facilities so we continue filing new applications and submissions.  We also have access to a communication channel with the UK IPO which substitutes for paper or fax-filing documents.

Hearings: No further physical hearings will be booked or take place until 1 June 2020 (this date will be kept under review).

WIPO – World Intellectual Property Organisation

WIPO remains operational. All WIPO’s IP services are now transmitting documents for users and IP Offices through electronic communication only until further notice.

Further information regarding WIPO’s response to COVID in their three main services areas can be found here for the PCT system (patents), here for the Madrid system (trade marks), and here for the Hague system (designs).

DPMA – German Patent and Trade Mark Office

Time limits: All current time limits set by the DPMA are automatically extended until 04 May 2020.  This does not apply to deadlines set by the law (such as priority or opposition deadlines).

Hearings: Summons to hearings (in examination and opposition proceedings) will no longer be issued until further notice.

Federal patent court (BPatG)

The Federal patent court is working in emergency mode until 19 April 2020. Oral hearings scheduled during this time have been cancelled.