USPTO offering exceptions during COVID-19 pandemic

virus imageDue to the COVID-19 pandemic, “stay at home” orders issued in 45 states and DC, disrupting the normal course of business. Even business with contingency plans need time to implement them. During this transition, communication is often disrupted and deadlines missed. Of particular vulnerability are infrequent deadlines like Maintenance Fees or Issue Fees, which are planned months (or years) in advance.

The USPTO appears to be offering a narrow exception to any missed fees or deadlines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Exception Requirements

The USPTO specified that the person seeking relief for the missed deadline: (a) must associated with the missed filing or fee and (b) must be personally affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. For example, the person must have experienced an office closures, cash flow interruption, inaccessibility of files or other materials, travel delays, personal or family illness, such that the COVID-19 pandemic materially interfered with the timely filing or payment. If both conditions can be met and documented, the USPTO is limiting the time for missed filing and fees to March 27 to April 30, 2020 and only granting a 30-day extension of time.

Review Deadlines

It is important for all to review deadlines falling between March 27th and April 30th of this year to check for any missed filings or fees. This is also a good time to discuss deadlines and fees with clients and business partners, including licensees, collaborators, investors, and assignees, to make sure everything is in order. Also keep in mind, the uncertainty of how long the “stay at home” orders will last and the disruption of returning to work once the State of Emergency is lifted. The relief offered by the USPTO is narrowly tailored to COVID-19 related circumstances but the disruption may last past April 30, 2020.

The professionals at McBee, Moore & Vanik IP LLC are available to assist you with this and all of your patent needs.


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