COVID-19 – key date extensions that may impact your business

Posted on: March 26th, 2020

In order to help alleviate some of the strain businesses are feeling at the moment, many organisations are starting implement changes and extensions to deadlines to help provide some relief whilst everyone is adjusting to the latest government guidance.

We have provided an overview of some of these key date changes from some of the providers that we regularly deal with on behalf of our clients. Some or all of these may be relevant to your business:-

Court Hearings – the courts and tribunals services are continuing to run although they are taking steps to adjust their practices and minimise any risk to individuals. Any changes to upcoming hearings will be communicated directly to those affected, usually by email and/or phone. There are also arrangements in place to use telephone, video and other technology, where possible encouraging agile working and supporting the governments guidance to stay at home.

Companies House – have agreed to allow companies to apply for a further 3 month extension to file their accounts; an application can be completed via a fast-tracked online system. The aim of this extension period is to support companies, particularly whilst most are in the process of dealing with the impact of COVID-19, and avoid any late submission penalties. You can find further information about this here,

EUIPO – if you have any procedural deadlines with the EUIPO, for example: opposition periods, filing an appeal and statement of ground, renewal request or payment of fees, due between 9 March and 30 April 2020 then these deadlines have been extended until 1 May 2020. This extension is to prevent deadlines from lapsing when they were originally due. This is an automatic extension and there is no requirement to file for a request. Please refer to the EUIPO website for an extensive list of the deadlines captured by this extension.

UKIPO – In line with the government’s guidance earlier this week the IPO have stopped access to their offices and are now working remotely. The IPO have released an update detailing the following changes to their services with immediate effect:

  • Extended deadlines from 24 March 2020 until further notice – this covers any deadlines for designs, patents, supplementary protection certificates, trade marks and any applications received for these rights. The deadlines will be extended until further notice and the IPO will aim to provide at least 2 weeks’ notice before normal service resumes.
  • Post and paper services suspended – the IPO are encouraging use of their online services as they will be unable to process faxes, paper correspondence and paper forms. A new email has been created for any services that are not available online and usually require paper correspondence or forms (paperformcontingency@ipo.gov.uk). Any paperwork that was sent to the IPO prior to these changes will be opened when normal service resumes and are expected to be allocated the date of receipt as a provisional filing date.
  • Tribunal hearings are not currently operational. The IPO will continue to operate hearings via telephone or other virtual methods where possible. There will be no physical hearings between now and 1 June 2020 and parties will be contacted direct if their hearings arrangements now need to change.

The majority of the IPO services are due to remain unaffected, albeit for some expected delays during this time, and the IPO are encouraging rights holders, businesses and IP professionals to continue to file as normal. The extension is to alleviate some pressure businesses may be under at this time.

Land Registry – are currently continuing to operate as close to normal as possible, albeit some minor delays are expected, the Land Registry are prioritising those services that allow property transactions to continue as normal.

We will expect to see those providing key business services to continue to implement changes to working methods, if they haven’t already, over the next few days.

If you require any further information about how COVID-19 may affect your business, take a look at our online Coronavirus Hub which we are regularly updating with legal guidance and advice, you can also contact us by getting in touch with our team members directly, or by filling in the enquiry form below.