Relief for Trademark Registrants and Applicants Affected by COVID-19
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is having a major effect on many businesses throughout the country. Due to the pandemic and its effects, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), in accordance with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), is extending the time for trademark applicants and registrants to file certain documents or pay certain fees which would ordinarily have been due on or after March 27, 2020. Such documents include responses to an Office Action, statements of use (or requests for extensions), and renewal applications that were due between, and inclusive of, both March 27, 2020 and April 30, 2020. Due dates have now been extended by thirty (30) days from the initial date from when the filing or payment was due, as long as the filing is accompanied by a statement that the delay was due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
According to the USPTO, acceptable reasons for the delay in a filing or payment of a trademark include office closures, cash flow interruptions, inaccessibility of files or other materials, travel delays, and personal or family illness. So, for example, if your office is closed due to a state governor’s directive that the physical place of business of nonessential businesses stay closed, and that closure prevented you from accessing files needed to respond to an Office Action, the USPTO will grant you an additional thirty (30) days from the initial due date. Please note that the reasons set forth above are likely not the only reasons the USPTO will accept; for instance, a small business whose clothing line production was delayed because of a factory shutdown will likely have an acceptable excuse for not filing a Statement of Use on time.
At this time the USPTO remains open for filing documents and fees. Because the COVID-19 pandemic is a fluid situation, the USPTO will continue to evaluate its impact on the USPTO’s operations and stakeholders. The Director of the USPTO has stated that their 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.” A copy of the USPTO notice regarding these extensions can be found here. We will provide more updates as soon as notices are posted to the USPTO website.
If your business has been impacted by COVID-19, please do not hesitate to contact our office for assistance. For more information on certain legal issues or developments related to COVID-19, be sure to read our other recent blog posts.