The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has further extended until May 18th all deadlines expiring between May 1st, 2020 and May 17th, 2020, pursuant to Decision No EX-20-4 („the Decision”), issued on April 29th, 2020.
In effect, all deadlines expiring between March 9th and May 17th are extended until May 18th.
Based on Article 101(4) of European Union Trade Mark Regulation (“EUTMR”), Article 100 of Council Regulation on Community Designs (“CDR”) and Article 58(4) of Commission Regulation implementing the Council Regulation (“CDIR”), which empowers the Executive Director to extend time limits in case of exceptional occurrences, the Decision refers to “all time limits” and “all parties to the proceedings”.
EUIPO defines “all time limits” as all procedural deadlines, whether they have been communicated by the Office to interested parties or are specifically stipulated in the Regulations relating to intellectual property, including those originating from the Paris Convention or other International Treaties.
In particular, the following statutory time limits are covered by the extension:
- Payment of the 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;
- Deferment of publication of designs.
It is noteworthy that EUIPO issued clarifications regarding the Decision reference to “proceedings before the Office”, pointing out that time limits related to subjects not dealt with by the intellectual property legislation (such as employment or procurement) or which relate to other matters (e.g. the governance of the Office) are not covered by the Decision of the Executive Director.
According to the Decision, in the event parties to proceedings choose to discharge procedural obligations before the expiry of the extended time limit, for example by submission of the last round of observations in an Opposition, the relevant time limit will be considered exhausted. In this case, the Office will close the proceedings, inform the parties accordingly and rule on the case on the basis of the evidence before it, without awaiting the expiration on May 18th.
EUIPO has advised that the extension is automatic and there is no need for the parties involved in the proceedings before the Office to submit an extension request.
Although celerity is the key in many business sectors, we think the measures regarding the extension of time limits are in line with public health authorities’ guidance meant to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.