In view of the challenges faced by the outbreak of COVID-19, China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) issued Announcement No. 350 on January 28, 2020, allowing the party to claim for continued protection when the obstacle to the exercise of rights is removed, covering patents, trademarks, and integrated circuit layout design. By the Announcement No. 350, the relevant time limit given in the China Trademark Law and the Implementing Regulations thereof, or the deadline specified by the CNIPA shall be suspended from the date when the obstacle to the exercise of the rights arise, till the obstacle for exercise of the right is removed, except as otherwise stipulated by law. The party concerned, including the applicant, the right holder and the agent, may claim for continued protection within 2 months from the date when the obstacle to the exercise of rights is removed, with supporting evidentiary material for the restoration of rights.
On March 27, CNIPA released an official notification to confirm that the parties in all countries and regions affected by COVID-19 outbreak can claim for remedy for missing deadlines through the Announcement No. 350.
A detailed Q&A was issued on February 6 by CNIPA, to clarify how the parties concerned who are missing deadlines may seek remedy through the Announcement No. 350. These are the five most frequently asked questions in the Q&A:
Which trademark proceedings are eligible for suspension?
Proceedings including reply to office action; response to office opinion; payment of official fees; submitting use proof for marks applied on the same day and response to consultation; submitting use proof in a non-use cancellation; filing, responding and submitting supplementary evidence in trademark opposition, review of refusal, review of opposition, review of invalidation, review of non-use cancellation; filing response and supplementary evidence in invalidation and etc.
How do I determine “the day when the obstacle to the exercise of rights arise” and “the day when the obstacle to the exercise of rights is removed”?
The day when the obstacle to the exercise of rights arise refers to the day when the party starts hospitalization, quarantine due to coronavirus infection, or fails to handle trademark issues normally due to epidemic prevention and control measures in the area.
The day when the obstacle to the exercise of rights is removed refers to the day when the party ends hospitalization, quarantine, or when the work in the area resumes and personnel control ends.
Under the special circumstance of this coronavirus epidemic, in order to protect the rights and interests of the party to the greatest extent, if the above dates coexist, the most favorable time shall be used as the date when the obstacle to the exercise of rights arise or is removed.
How do I file the claim of suspension?
When handling the above-mentioned trademark proceedings, the party shall file the claim of suspension, specifying the region where they are during the epidemic period, reasons for obstacle to the exercise of rights and time of removal of the obstacle, with supporting evidentiary material.
What supporting evidential requirements should be provided to supplement a claim?
The party shall provide proof of being infected and treated, being quarantined, or being restricted within a time period, instead of the notice of the local government to delay work resumption.
In order to reduce the burden of the party, for multiple applications of the same kind, wherein suspension of time limit is claimed, he may submit the evidentiary material only in one case, while stating the application number of that case in the claim of suspension for other similar cases.
How do I remedy trademark renewal if I am delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak?
If the party fails to renew a trademark right within the grace period due to the coronavirus outbreak, which may result in loss of the right, he may file an application for renewal within 2 months from the date when the obstacle to the exercise of rights is removed, and supplement relevant evidentiary material as stipulated above.
(Source:CCPIT patent and trademark law office)