The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued notice for temporary modification of certain deadlines on March 31, 2020 under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. According to the Act, the USPTO Director may toll, waive, adjust, or modify, any timing deadline if the Director determines that the emergency:
(1) materially affects the functioning of the Patent and Trademark Office;
(2) prejudices the rights of applicants, registrants, patent owners, or others appearing before the Office; or
(3) prevents applicants, registrants, patent owners, or others appearing before the Office from filing a document or fee with the Office.
If the director elects to modify any such timeline, then sufficient notification is required to be posted. Modification of timelines up to 120 days may be made by the director.
The USPTO has closed its physical offices while maintaining online filing and remote patent prosecution during the coronavirus pandemic. The USPTO director has already taken action under the CARES Act by extending certain patent and trademark related timing deadlines on March 31, 2020.
According to a press release by the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office Andrei Iancu: “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.”