On June 29, 2020, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued another notice under the authority granted by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to grant COVID-19-related relief to patent applicants. In issuing the notice, the USPTO recognized that some stakeholders, in particular small businesses and individuals, will require additional relief as the economy reopens.
Therefore, the notice grants extensions for payments of certain fees by small and micro entities. For small and micro entities only, application filing fees, issue fees or maintenance fees “due between, and inclusive of both, March 27, 2020, and September 29, 2020, will be considered timely if paid on or before September 30, 2020.” The USPTO will accept the late payment of fees as long as the payment includes a statement indicating that the delay was due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The notice also remarks that “other extensions of time and other relief remain available to those who need it on a case-by-case basis.” However, the notice does not provide any waivers for the fees associated with extensions of time.
In previous notices, the USPTO enacted fee waivers for “petitions to revive for patent applicants or patent owners who, because of the COVID-19 outbreak, were unable to timely submit a filing or payment such that the application became abandoned or the reexamination prosecution became terminated or limited.” The USPTO is extending the waiver of fees for petitions to revive until July 31. Petitions filed after that date will not be eligible for the waiver.
For Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) proceedings, a request for an extension due to COVID-19 can be requested by contacting the PTAB. While the USPTO will continue to monitor the hardships caused by COVID-19, “the USPTO does not anticipate any further broad-based extensions.”