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FAQs Regarding USPTO Notices About COVID-19

The following are frequently asked questions regarding the COVID-19 relief from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

No statutory deadlines are extended under this USPTO relief.

Question 1: Are USPTO offices open to the public during this time of social distancing?
No. Because the public cannot access the USPTO offices, there are no oral hearings, interviews, or in-person meetings taking place and these interactions with the USPTO will be conducted remotely. The USPTO is continuing to accept applications, response to office action and other prosecution matters electronically.

Question 2: How does COVID-19 affect the timeline for patent prosecution?
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) provided the Director with the authority to extend deadlines for filing certain patent documents and paying certain fees. For certain fees and documents due between March 27, 2020 and April 30, 2020, a filing will be considered timely if it is made within thirty days of the original due date and accompanied by a statement that the delay was due to the COVID-19 outbreak. See the USPTO’s notice.

Question 3: Are all patent documents, events, and fees eligible for an extension?
No The USPTO has identified the following documents, events and fees as eligible:

  • Reply to an Office notice issued during pre-examination processing by a small or micro entity;
  • Reply to an Office notice or action issued during examination or patent publication processing;
  • Issue fee;
  • Notice of appeal to the Patent and Trademark Appel Board (PTAB);
  • Appeal brief in before the PTAB;
  • Reply brief to an examiner’s answer before the PTAB;
  • Paying the Appeal forwarding fee before the PTAB;
  • Request for an oral hearing before PTAB;
  • Response to a substitute examiner’s answer before the PTAB;
  • Amendment when reopening prosecution in response to, or request for rehearing of, a PTAB decision designated as including a new ground of rejection;
  • Request for rehearing of a PTAB decision;
  • The PTAB shall grant a request for a thirty day extension of time for:
    • A request for a rehearing of a PTAB decision;
    • A petition to the PTAB Chief Judge under; and
    • A patent owner preliminary response in a trial proceeding before the PTAB;
  • Payment of a patent maintenance fee by a small or micro entity.

Question 4: Are trademark applications included in the USPTO extension?
Yes. Trademark applications are eligible for similar extensions and they are included in this notice.

Question 5: Are all trademark documents, events, and fees eligible for an extension?
No.
The USPTO has identified the following documents, events and fees as eligible:

  • Response to an office action or a notice of appeal to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) from a final refusal to register;
  • Statement of use or request for extension of time to file a statement of use;
  • Notice of opposition or request for extension of time to file a notice of opposition;
  • Establishing a priority filing basis;
  • Transformation of an extension of protection to the United States into a U.S. application;
  • Affidavit of use or excusable nonuse; or,
  • Filing a renewal application.

Question 6: If a document or fee is not on the list above, is an extension still available?Yes. In certain situations where the COVID-19 outbreak prevented or interfered with a filing before either the PTAB or TTAB it is possible to request an extension of time. The USPTO’s notices regarding the CARES Act for both patent and trademark applications provide more information for how these requests should be made.

Question 7: Is there any other relief for someone affected by the COVID-19 outbreak?
Yes. The fees for petitions to revive abandoned patent and trademark applications can be waived when applicants cannot meet the response due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Read.

The original handwritten signature requirement can be waived for some documents and payments. Read.

This above information is a general review of the relief available from the USPTO. If you have a specific question regarding a particular matter, please contact us directly and we will try to assist you.