Measures regarding trademarks and industrial designs, at national, European and international level, in the context of COVID-19
In Romania, the State Office for Inventions and Trademarks (OSIM) issued, on 21 March 2020, Order no. 27/21.03.2020 regarding specific measures at OSIM level in order to prevent and limit the effects of infection with the new type of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (COVID-19).
At the same time, on March 23, the Office issued the Press Release no. 204069 which informs the public that all time limits related to the procedures in front of OSIM do not start to run, and if they started to run, they will be suspended for the entire period of emergency established by Decree no. 195/16.03.2020.
OSIM has advised about the suspension of all activities involving public relations at the OSIM headquarters, such as gatherings, meetings, cultural or scientific events, with effect from 23 March 2020 and continuing until the cessation of the national state of emergency. OSIM is advising the use of alternative methods of communications that do not require a physical presence at the OSIM headquarters, such as online submissions via their website, postal services, fax or email.
At European level, on 16 March 2020, the Executive Director of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) issued Decision no. EX-20-3 extending time limits between 9 March 2020 and 30 April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. EUIPO subsequently issued clarification about the time limits affected by the extension, the nature of the extension and the measures to adapt communications sent to users.
Regarding the time limits affected, according to Decision EX-20-3 of the Executive Director of EUIPO all time limits expiring between 9 March and 30 April 2020, including those that affect all parties in proceedings before EUIPO, and relating to trademarks and industrial designs, are extended until 1 May 2020 (although, in practice, this will be 4 May, as 1 May is a public holiday, followed by a weekend).
EUIPO defines "all time limits" as all procedural deadlines, including those communicated by EUIPO to interested and legal parties, specifically stipulated in the Regulations relating to intellectual property.
In particular, the following statutory time limits are covered by the extension:
- payment of the trade mark application fee;
- right of priority;
- exhibition priority;
- opposition period;
- payment of the opposition fee;
- request for renewal;
- filing of an Appeal and Statement of Grounds and payment of the appeal fee;
- conversion; and
- deferment of publication of designs.
EUIPO has advised that the extension is automatic and that there is no need for the parties involved in the proceedings before EUIPO to submit an extension request.
It is also important to mention that those parties involved in procedures whose deadlines are covered by Decision EX-20-3 will not be individually informed (by written notification) about this extension.
The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has previously communicated via Information Notice no. 7/2020, that its offices are physically closed to the public and all meetings are postponed or cancelled until the end of April, with updates to follow.
WIPO has activated its business continuity protocol and moved to an almost entirely virtual work presence, with only a small pool of personnel retaining access to their headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. This is in line with public health authorities’ guidance in order to curb the further spread of COVID-19.