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Focus Area: Coronavirus/COVID-19

Emergency Powers Granted by the CARES Act to Director of US Patent & Trademark Office and Register of Copyrights

The CARES Act, or the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which passed the US Senate on March 25, 2020 grants “emergency relief authority” to the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and to the United States Copyright Office Register of Copyrights (with certain exceptions) the ability to temporarily “toll, waive, adjust, or modify, any timing deadline” established by the patent, trademark, or copyright laws or by prior PTO regulation in order to mitigate the impact of disruption to regular business caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Patents & Trademarks SEC. 12004.S2128 of March 25, 2020 Congressional Record; Copyrights SEC. 19011.S2146 of March 25, 2020 Congressional Record.

Many patent, trademark, and copyright deadlines are set by statute, which limits the ability of the USPTO and Copyright Office to address hardships many applicants and registrants may face as a result of COVID-19.  In order to try and mitigate this issue, the USPTO, on March 16, 2020, published a notice that it would waive petition fees in certain situations for customers impacted by the coronavirus (e.g., as a result of abandonment of abandonment).  The CARES Act, when it becomes effective, remedies this limitation.  The Act will grant the Director / Register the ability to modify a deadline.  According to the Act, if the Director / Registrar determines that tolling, waiving, adjusting, or modifying a timing deadline under the Act is appropriate, the Director / Registrar shall publish a notice to such effect.

We are seeing similar activities by foreign patent and trademark offices, and in some cases complete temporary shutdown of those offices.

We will continue to keep you updated as this situation evolves.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided is for general informational purposes only. This post is not updated to account for changes in the law and should not be considered tax or legal advice. This article is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. You should consult with legal and/or financial advisors for legal and tax advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

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