In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the EUIPO issued several decisions in recent months extending all time limits and deadlines before them. The EUIPO has now confirmed that these extensions will come to an end on 18 May 2020, when all deadlines which fell between 9 March 2020 and that date now fall due.
However, in an explanatory note issued today (15 May 2020), the EUIPO has acknowledged that holders of EU Trade Marks, Registered Community Designs, and their representatives may face difficulties in meeting existing deadlines, and explained several circumstances in which they may award parties further extensions of time. The note can be viewed here: https://euipo.europa.eu/ohimportal/en/news/-/action/view/5755471
As can be seen, there are many circumstances and factors discussed. Most notably, the Office reminds us that time limits laid down directly by EU Regulations (such as the deadline to oppose an EU trade mark application falling three months after it is published) are mandatory and cannot generally be extended.
However, time limits determined by the Office in ongoing proceedings can be extended on receipt of a reasoned request. The request must be submitted by a party to the proceedings and before the time limit in question expires. The Office has confirmed its usual practice that first extension requests will generally be granted without detailed justification, and that further requests will only be granted if exceptional circumstances justify further time being awarded. However, they have clarified that difficulties arising from measures taken by public authorities against the pandemic caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, or instances of sickness of the party or its representative for the same reason, do constitute exceptional circumstances that will be considered appropriate by the Office for granting second and subsequent extensions of the same time limit. The awarding of such extensions however will remain at the discretion of the Office, and so advice should be sought in each case to determine whether or not the EUIPO both is able, and would be minded, to grant further time in the particular circumstances.
Please contact your usual Beck Greener team member if you have any questions.