As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact business operations, various intellectual property offices around the globe have implemented response measures to protect staff and assist affected trade mark applicants and holders. The IP team at SWS Lawyers is closely monitoring announcements made by IP Australia and international IP offices and corresponding with overseas co-advisors to provide the latest information to our clients. 
 
The purpose of this article is to provide a brief update on the status of operations at IP Australia and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). For information on the status of specific overseas registrars, please contact us.
 
IP Australia
 
It is generally “business as usual” at IP Australia; however certain changes have been made to operations to ensure compliance with COVID-19 social distancing measures.  For example, hearings are now being conducted only by video conferencing, telephone or written submissions.   Further, most of IP Australia’s staff are now working from home. Accordingly, documents cannot currently be processed at the IP Australia national office and must be lodged only online via the eServices portal.
 
Where customers are having difficulties meeting deadlines due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an extension of time may be available.  Applicants are required to lodge an extension of time application in the usual manner and each application will be considered by IP Australia on a case-by-case basis.  It is important to note that extensions of time are not available for all deadlines and, accordingly, we recommend that you contact us for tailored advice if you are affected by COVID-19 and are facing a Trade Mark Office deadline in Australia or overseas.
 
WIPO
 
WIPO is also continuing its operations in relation to Madrid Protocol trade marks, although applicants or registrants should be aware of the following measures since the COVID-19 pandemic began:

  1. Automatic extensions: There will be an automatic extension to time limits where the relevant national IP office is not open to the public. The time limit will be extended to the first subsequent day on which the IP office operating in the country/jurisdiction is open to the public. We are monitoring the progress of these matters and their IP Offices for clients with overseas trade marks and can provide information on the deadlines, if any.
     
  2. Disruption of postal services or electronic communications: A failure to meet a WIPO-specified time limit for a communication may be excused where postal services or electronic communications are disrupted due to COVID-19. In order to be excused, parties must send that communication within five (5) days of regaining access to postal services or electronic communication and provide evidence of the lodgement.
     
  3. Extensions of time: Applicants or holders who have failed to meet certain time limits specified by WIPO may request continued processing by lodging a request. If the request meets the prescribed requirements, WIPO will continue processing the application, subsequent designation, payment or request instead of treating it as abandoned or cancelled.

If you require intellectual property law advice or further information in relation to the status of an intellectual property office, or any other issue regarding your trade mark rights, please do not hesitate to contact us.
 
This article was co-written by Lawyer, Laura Bain.

This article is not legal advice.  It is intended to provide commentary and general information only.  Access to this article does not entitle you to rely on it as legal advice.  You should obtain formal legal advice specific to your own situation.  Please contact us if you require advice on matters covered by this article.

Annick Vincent

Annick Vincent -

Consultant

Intellectual property law specialist