Impact of COVID-19

At present, the number of confirmed cases of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has exceeded 182,726 across the globe, with 80,881 of such cases located in China. As of now, there have been 7,174 deaths, and 79,883 patients have recovered fully. The virus has spread to 77 nations around the world, and the worst affected ones include Italy with 27,980 cases, Iran with 14,991 cases, Spain with 9,942 cases, South Korea with 8,320 cases, Germany with 7,272 cases, France with 6,633 cases, the US with 4,727 cases,  Japan with 834 cases, and Hong Kong with 157 cases.

Without any second thoughts, the pandemic has indeed affected the Intellectual Property (IP) industry as well. IP Offices worldwide have begun implementing measures in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis. For instance:

  1. The European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has extended its deadlines until 1st May 2020, corresponding to all the time limits expiring between 9th March 2020 and 30th March 2020.
  2. Considering the health and safety of the public and its employees, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has announced that all of its offices would remain closed from 16th March 2020 until any further notice. However, all USPTO operations shall continue without facing any interruption along with no extension in the trademark and patent-related deadlines.
  3. The IP Office (Indecopi) of Peru has declared that it has suspended all its public meetings scheduled from the coming week. Also, all IP-related deadlines that were being processed by the IP office are now suspended.
  4. In Geneva, the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) has stated that it has started reserving access to its headquarters to its personnel who play an essential role in delivering the organization’s business continuity protocol. It further mentioned that the Coronavirus outbreak has not yet affected the processing of applications filed through WIPO’s services.
  5. The UKIPO published a blog highlighting its robust plans corresponding to maintaining IP services during the Coronavirus outbreak. It talked about extending deadlines for the ones infected by the virus, granting extensions on a case-by-case basis, and the ability to restore the Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) if required.
  6. The Italian IP Office (UIBM) posted a blog explaining how it is reorganizing its IP related services in the best possible manner to help fight the novel COVID-19 virus.
  7. The Slovakian IP Office (IPOSR) has requested the public not to come in any personal contact with its employees and has also confirmed that the registry’s study room has temporarily shut down.
  8. The Hungarian Patent Office (HIPO) has specified that its annual Ányos Jedlik Awards ceremony, which was scheduled for 15th March 2020, has been postponed. It has also announced that no registry employee shall be traveling to any professional event, including the ones hosted by WIPO, EUIPO, and EPO.

When it comes to mass gatherings, various IP events have either been canceled or postponed in recent weeks, such as the IACC Annual Conference, the INTA Annual Meeting, the MARQUES Spring Meeting, and ICANN’s Mexico Meeting.

As the novel Coronavirus is spreading to an increasing number of nations worldwide, it is likely for more national IP offices to come up with new measures to offset the impact.