From March to June of 2020, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) responded to the COVID-19 outbreak by offering various forms of relief to stakeholders. The widest ranging of these relief efforts was issued under the CARES Act and relates to how certain patent and trademark deadlines would be handled by the USPTO.
In view of the COVID-19 pandemic imposing significant hardships on small businesses and individual inventors even as businesses reopen or resume business, the USPTO issued another notice under the CARES Act on June 29, 2020. This newly issued notice is limited to small and micro entities and establishes that certain filings or payments due from March 27, 2020 to September 29, 2020 will be considered timely filed if they are filed on or before September 30, 2020 with a qualifying COVID-19 statement.
Other forms of relief previously available to large entities and previously applied to other filings and payments for small and micro entities are now only available on a case-by-case basis through fee waivers. Additionally, due to updated USPTO requirements, stakeholders will no longer be able to waive the fee to file a petition to revive abandoned patent applications if the abandonment was due to COVID-19 after July 31, 2020.
In order to obtain the relief offered by the June 29th update, qualifying small and micro entity applicants and patent owners need to file a COVID-19 statement with those filings or payments. A COVID-19 statement pertains to the delay in filing or payment being due to the COVID-19 outbreak by office closures, cash flow interruptions, inaccessibility of files or other materials, travel delays, personal or family illness, or similar circumstances such that the outbreak materially interfered with timely filing or payment. A USPTO form that can be used to make such a statement can be found here.
A summary of the permitted patent-related deadline extensions provided by the USPTO is detailed below.
Which deadlines for small and micro entities falling from March 27, 2020 to September 29, 2020 are considered timely filed on or before September 30, 2020 by filing a COVID-19 statement?
Which deadlines for small and micro entities falling from March 27, 2020 to September 29, 2020 are not extendable?
At this time, the USPTO has indicated that they do not intend to further extend the deadline to file certain patent, patent application, and PTAB related filings or payments.