The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has, rather belatedly, extended the time limit for applicants to file patent and trademark-related documents to 1 June 2020. It has also extended the time limits applicable to the payment of relevant fees and costs. The extensions have been made under the authority of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which was signed into law by President Trump on 27 March. Previously, the USPTO had insisted that “patent and trademark application deadlines and other deadlines are not extended”, despite closing its offices to the public “until further notice”, so this latest action marks a significant turnaround.
Andrei Iancu, USPTO Director and Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property said: “Inventors and entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of our economy, and we recognize that many of them are having difficulty as a result of the effects of COVID-19. As a result, we are working to provide as much relief as possible to our stakeholders, consistent with our ability to maintain the USPTO’s fee-funded operations. We are especially mindful of the outsized impact on small businesses and independent inventors and have provided additional relief for these groups. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure not only that inventors and entrepreneurs can weather the storm, but that they can hit the ground running once it passes”.
According to the USPTO, it has made a number of operational adjustments to keep its employees and the public safe as it remains open for business. In-person meetings, such as hearings and examiner interviews, are being conducted virtually, either by phone or by video-link, until further notice. The USPTO has also said that it will continue to evaluate the evolving situation around COVID-19 and the impact the pandemic has on both the USPTO’s operations and stakeholders.