Patent filings are taking a backseat to the economic issues that inventors and companies are facing today amid the worldwide spread of COVID-19. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has recognized this and recently issued Notice under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to waive certain upcoming deadlines to keep applications pending until the COVID-19 disruption passes and applicants can resume normal commercial activities.
The Notice describes a 30-day extension for certain patent deadlines which fall between March 27, 2020, and April 30, 2020. While this extension is limited to certain patent-related proceedings, the extension is not automatically applied. Instead, a delayed filing or payment (applicable for the extension) must be accompanied by a statement indicating that the delay in filing or payment was due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While this extension is a caring gesture by the USPTO, 30 days is a short period of time and will be over very quickly. To that end, no one can accurately forecast how long this disruption may last. If you have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic (i.e., meet any of the conditions under (1)(b) of the Notice) and have an upcoming patent deadline applicable to the 30-day extension, one strategy would be to take advantage of the extension and revisit it a week or two in advance of the extended deadline. At that point, the disruption may still be active. It is possible the USPTO may adopt a longer (say, 60-day) extension or the disruption may be under control and applicants can prepare the patent filings by the extended deadlines.
While we all hope that the spread of COVID-19 comes to an end as soon as possible, the Notice issued by the USPTO under the CARES Act enables impacted applicants to take advantage of the 30-day extension and proceed on a month-to-month basis with their extended deadlines. Of course, if you have any questions regarding the Notice or your patent matters, we will be happy to help you.