Coronavirus & IP

Written by Samuel O’Toole | March 20, 2020

Intellectual Property

We are living in unprecedented times, due to the outbreak of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) travel across the EU has been suspended, London tubes are running a reduced service and, unfortunately, many of us will be impacted on a personal level.

However, Coronavirus is also having an impact on the world of intellectual property. I should note that at Briffa, we are continuing as normal, our practice continues and we continue to service and support our large client base. That said, my commute has become dramatically shorter!

In the US, there has been a number of speculative trade mark applications looking to capitalise on this pandemic. Whilst the registrability of such applications is unclear, the following applications are notable:

“I SURVIVED THE CORONAVIRUS/ COVID-19 OF 2020.!” (serial number: 88834389) which is seeking registration for…you guessed it “imprinting messages on tee-shirts”.

“WE CURED COVID-19” (serial number: 88827108) which is seeking registration for “charitable fundraising and providing information in the field of medicine; promotional services, namely, promoting the charities of others

Overall, as of today, there are 8 Coronavirus trade mark applications filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

At the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO), the following caught my eye:

“COVID-19” (application number: 3475725) which is seeking registration for, amongst others, “Clothing; Footwear; Headgear.”  This application was filed on 17 March 2020.

Aside from a speculative application or two, the UKIPO has provided guidance explaining that its services are unaffected at present. However, physical hearings will be booked or take place until 1 June 2020 so there could quickly become a backlog of decisions to be made.

At the European Union Intellectual Property Office, in Alicante, Spain, where a “state of alarm” has been declared, staff have been told to work from home and all deadlines have been pushed back to 1 May 2020.

Meanwhile, at the European Patent Office all deadlines expiring on or after 15 March 2020 have been extended to 17 April 2020.

Overall, whilst Coronavirus is sure to have a long lasting impact and one that will be remembered for a while, its business as usual here at Briffa and what better time to get your IP in order whilst “working from home”.

Written by Samuel O’Toole, Solicitor

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