The UK government announced sweeping changes to its covid-19 crisis strategy yesterday evening (16 March 2020), and we are closely following the effects this crisis is having on intellectual property owners and their rights. We await to see what, if any, contingency plans are offered by the government and/or whether the intellectual property offices will exercise their powers of discretion to avoid potentially serious adverse effects.
As an initial reaction to the latest developments, the EUIPO has declared that as of today, 17 March 2020, a decision came into force that all existing time limits and deadlines due to expire between 9 March 2020 and 30 April 2020 will be extended to 1 May 2020 (and in fact, in practice, this means the extension will roll over to Monday 4 May, as Friday 1 May is a bank holiday). See the full decision here.
This should provide some much needed respite to rights-holders whilst they implement their own contingency plans, make decisions about how to move forward and decide whether to proceed with various actions, if applicable.
By contrast, the UKIPO has not yet announced any such offer of a widespread extension to upcoming deadlines, and instead it has said it will consider any request for an extension on a case by case basis. The latest update on the UKIPO website was as of 11 March 2020 (see here) and so this advice could change at any moment. It is important to remember that should any rights be lost due to a failure to meet a time period, these rights can be reinstated in certain circumstances. If in doubt, contact the named officer or section dealing with the application.
The approach taken by all parties during this crisis is constantly moving and changing and we will be keeping a close eye on any further developments.