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What will happen to patent, trade mark and design registration applications that are currently being processed or which I want to file?

In recognition of the problems that the current situation is causing, the UK IPO classed the 24th March and all subsequent days as “interrupted days” which means that deadlines that fall within this period will be extended until the UK IPO declares that the interrupted days have ceased. As lockdown has begun to be eased, the IPO has now reviewed its position and has confirmed that the “interrupted days” period will come to an end on the 29 July 2020. This means that Thursday 30 July 2020 will be the first normal day of operation, therefore all “interrupted days” deadlines will expire on this day. Similarly, if your deadline falls after the period of interruption ends, this deadline will not be automatically extended.

The IPO is conscious that many businesses may still be in challenging positions when the period of “interrupted days” end. They will endeavour to continue to provide flexibility and support to assist businesses with their applications. They hope to temporarily remove fees for requests for extensions of deadlines, and will give further updates when this fee exemption is in place.

The IPO continues to encourage applicants to meet original deadlines where they are able.  As their offices are closed, the UK IPO is not currently processing paper forms (i.e. hard copy) and faxes. However, they are processing forms which have been submitted electronically, or via email and have made a new email address available for the submission of forms.

Intellectual Property Offices covering other territories have made their own announcements about the extension of deadlines. The EUIPO’s period of extension of deadlines came to an end on the 18th May. However, they have published a Guidance Note and accompanying webinar on the EUIPO website, detailing options for parties who may struggle to meet deadlines and remedies for those who may have missed deadlines.

Related FAQs

If an employee works with vulnerable people who are at high risk of catching coronavirus, can the employer require them to limit their activities outside of work?

It is unlikely that an employer can place such a requirement on staff without infringing the employee’s privacy. If the employee is acting in accordance with the rules, limiting their activity would likely be considered unreasonable.

Can an employee on family related leave be furloughed?

Yes, but your claim will be limited to any enhanced contractual payments you make to employees who qualify for the relevant family related pay.

All maternity and parental rights remain in force for anyone in this category who is furloughed. However you may need to calculate average weekly pay differently if the employee was furloughed and then started family related leave on or after 25 April 2020.

Furlough pay cannot be claimed for the period that an employee is receiving Maternity Allowance. An employee can agree to accept furlough pay but they must contact Jobcentre Plus to stop their Maternity Allowance payments for this period.

How do I guard against contractor insolvency in the construction industry?

It is almost impossible to completely guard against the risks associated with contractor insolvency, but there are some steps which can assist in mitigating and managing the risks involved.   To be in the best possible position, it is worth considering the following at the outset of any project:

  • Check the contractor’s financial position – particularly the specific company which will enter into the building contract, as the employer’s rights will be against this company rather than the business as a whole
  • Take legal advice to ensure that the building contract is properly drafted with appropriate provisions to deal with an insolvency event
  • Consider requiring a performance bond and/or parent company guarantee (each serve slightly different purposes)
  • Obtain collateral warranties from the consultants and sub-contractors involved, so that there are contractual rights against other parties if the contractor is no longer able to meet claims
  • Consider requiring retention bonds, advance payment bonds or vesting certificates if necessary
  • Project bank accounts and escrow accounts can also provide some further assurances for the parties involved
Can you require an employee to tell their employer whether they have been tested for coronavirus/the results of that test?

Yes, this is very likely to amount to a reasonable management instruction which is put in place for public health reasons. Employers should make it clear to their employees that this is something they are required to do and that if they fail to do so this may lead to disciplinary action.

What happens if that means a particular service might need to close?

Ultimately closing a service will be a decision that is taken at the highest level and that decision will depend on risk appetite.  Often these types of higher risk are mitigated by way of insurance but that still depends on an insurer being willing to accept that risk. This decision will depend on accepting a known risk and its consequences.