March 30, 2020
By Joel G. MacMull
The $2 trillion coronavirus rescue bill signed by President Trump last Friday contains some potentially important relief for intellectual property rights owners and applicants.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) contains provisions that allow both the U.S. Copyright Office as well as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office temporary authority to toll or modify filing deadlines and fees to ease the disruption caused by the COVID-19 health crisis.
Under the CARES Act, both the Register of Copyrights and the Director of the Patent and Trademark Office may extend the statutory filing deadlines in the event that the pandemic materially affects the functioning of the Offices, prejudices the rights of applicants, registrants, patent owners or others appearing before the Offices, or prevents users from filing a document or paying a fee in a timely manner.
The new measures will take effect when the legislation is enacted and will last for 60 days after the end of the renewable emergency period that began March 13.
The CARES Act follows the USPTO previously indicating that it was unable to extend statutory deadlines absent congressional approval. Nevertheless, the USPTO began waiving certain fees the week of March 16th in connection with filing petitions seeking to revive patent and trademark applications abandoned based on missed deadlines attributable to the virus.
In addition to these rule changes, the USPTO has also called off face-to-face meetings between applicants and patent and trademark examiners, along with hearings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board and Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. Instead, the Office has moved to teleconferences or phone calls for conducting its day-to-day activities.
Questions concerning filing deadlines and existing fee requirements with either the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or the U.S. Copyright Office should be directed to Joel MacMull, Co-Chair of Mandelbaum Barrett PC’s Intellectual Property and Brand Management Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 973.295.3652.