On March 31, 2020, the United States Patent Office (USPTO) announced extensions for certain fees and deadlines during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Citing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”), the $2 trillion relief bill signed by President Trump on March 27, the USPTO extended most deadlines for patent and trademark filings and fees that would have otherwise been due between March 27, 2020 and April 30, 2020.

Section 12004 of the CARES Act provides the USPTO with the authority to “toll, waive, adjust or modify, any timing deadline established by” the Patent or Trademark Act (or “regulations promulgated thereunder”) during the period of the coronavirus emergency. The Act requires the Director to determine that the emergency:

  1. Materially affects the functioning of the Patent and Trademark Office;
  2. Prejudices the rights of applicants, registrants, patent owners, or others appearing before the Office; or
  3. Prevents applicants, registrants, patent owners, or others appearing before the Office from filing a document or fee with the Office.

The USPTO acknowledged that the virus has significantly disrupted the operations of numerous businesses, law firms, and inventors, and prejudiced the rights of applicants, owners and others appearing before the USPTO in patent and trademark matters. Accordingly, the USPTO announced that deadlines for patent and trademark applications, documents in patent and trademark proceedings and associated fees can be extended by a month, “provided the filing is accompanied by a statement that the delay in filing or payment was due to the COVID-19 outbreak.” The USPTO clarified that a delay in filing or payment is due to the COVID-19 outbreak if a person associated with the filing or fee, which could include the patent or trademark applicant, owner, or inventor(s), was personally affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, including by office closures, cash flow interruptions, inaccessibility of files, travel delays, or personal or family illness. Eligible patent deadlines include those to respond to Office actions, pay issue fees and file a notice of appeal or appeal brief. Eligible trademark deadlines include those to respond to Office actions, file a statement of use, file a notice of opposition, and file a renewal application.

The USPTO remains open for the filing of trademark and patent documents and fees.

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