COVID-19: Update from Our Offices, PTOs, Courts

Mar 20 2020 - 09:00

Our offices as well as the PTOs, courts and related authorities around the region have taken measures to adapt to the situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Below is an overview of important developments in jurisdictions where we are active (our own and affiliated offices). We continue to regularly update this information.

PETOSEVIC GROUP OFFICES

Albania

Our staff – working in the office without interruption
PTO – resumed normal operations
Courts – resumed normal operations
Note: Ordinary/registered mail as well as DHL/other couriers are operational, but delays are possible

Belarus

Our staff – working from home without interruption, one person in the office
PTO – restrictions on office visits; a drop-off box available outside the PTO premises
Customs — no changes, business as usual
Courts – no changes, business as usual

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Our staff – resumed working in the office as usual
PTO – open with shorter hours; working with agents only from 10-11am
Courts — only urgent hearings are being held due to a difficult epidemiological situation
Note: Postal service is being restored with many countries

Bulgaria

Our staff – staff working from the office
PTO – electronic filings are preferred; delays in processing applications
Courts – resumed normal operations

Croatia

Our staff – working in the office
PTO – slight delays in processing of applications, requests and motions can be expected
Courts – slight delays in processing of applications, requests and motions can be expected

Hungary

Our staff — some members of staff working from home, some working in the office
PTO — e-filing and by mail; no personal visits available, the examiners are working from home
Courts – both e-filing and in-person filings are possible; hearings will be postponed or will be conducted by means of electronic media (if possible) until April 19, 2021; after April 19, 2021, hearings can be held in person in accordance with epidemiological measures (if possible) or by means of electronic media
Note: Postal service to many countries is operational with delays; postal service to certain countries is still suspended.

Kazakhstan

Our staff — working in the office
PTO – staff is still working remotely, no visitors allowed; online applications accepted, searches can be conducted and ordered online and maintenance fees and renewal fees can be paid online; all communication conducted by electronic means; documents are accepted by mail; no official notification about the extension of procedural deadlines
Courts – documents are accepted by mail, no visitors allowed; online hearings conducted; new filings and applications accepted online or by mail; deadlines not extended.

Montenegro

Our staff – some work from the office, some work from home
PTO – electronic filings only
Courts – open, receiving filings
Customs – open, receiving filings

North Macedonia

Our staff – most staff returned to the office, some employees still working from home
PTO — operating with delays; we file most of the documents to the PTO by registered mail; as of May 27, 2020, the PTO is also open for filings and receipt of documents each day from 1-2pm
Customs – operating with delays
Courts — resumed normal operations as of May 29, 2020
Note: Our regular mail is usually delivered on Monday; courier shipments are delivered to our office on a regular basis

Romania

Our staff – some working from home, some in the office
PTO – returned to normal activities; open to public as of May 15, 2020, with protective measures in place; deadlines are running normally.
Courts – returned to normal activities as of May 15, 2020, with protective measures, including limited access to court premises for activities other than attending hearings. Deadlines are running normally.

Russia

Our staff – working in the office
PTO – opened its receiving office on May 18, 2020; the Chamber of Patent Disputes is considering appeals online and offline (starting from May 25, 2020); time limits have been extended, including official fee payments; all time limits expiring between March 30 and November 30, 2020 will be extended until December 31, 2020, upon applicant’s request. The request should be filed no later than one month after the expiration of the time limit or after the date of publication of the Order (June 22, 2020), depending on of which date comes later.
Courts – resuming normal operations and consideration of cases

Serbia

Our staff – resumed working from the office
PTO – resumed normal operations; electronic filings are preferred
Courts – resumed normal operations

Slovenia

Our staff – working in the office
PTO – officially the deadlines run as usual; work is slowed down due to the epidemic
Courts – during the lockdown (from April 1, 2021 until April 11, 2021), only hearings in urgent matters will take place; all deadlines run as usual; work is slowed down due to the epidemic

Ukraine

Our staff – some work from the office, some work from home
PTO – meetings with applicants/representatives cancelled until further notice; documents (including applications) to be filed either electronically, physically, or by mail
Courts — communication by electronic means or by mail encouraged; hearings are taking place

Uzbekistan

Our staff – working at the office without interruption
PTO – applications can only be filed electronically, other correspondence can be filed both electronically and in hard copy; letters of consent, assignment deeds and license agreements are only accepted in hard copy; deadlines have not been postponed; Board of Appeal hearings taking place as usual
Courts – operating normally
Courier services – operating normally

AFFILIATED OFFICES

Armenia

PTO – partially closed to visitors; electronic filing possible; deadlines have not been postponed; all official documents (e.g. registration certificates and original extracts) are provided in due time
Courts — normal operations resumed, but hearings may be postponed until further notice
Note: Quarantine regime is in place until July 11, 2021

Azerbaijan

PTO – resumed normal operations; Appeal Council’s meetings have been postponed until further notice
Courts – resumed normal operations

Czech Republic

PTO – normal operations resumed, but electronic, postal or telephone communication strongly encouraged; PTO working hours are limited; we can proceed with payment instructions received on the last day of the term only if they are received by 3 PM on Monday and Wednesday, 1 PM on Tuesday or Thursday and 12 PM on Friday; no official suspension of time limits, but the PTO has been more lenient with restoration requests based on omissions of time limits related to the pandemic, except for restoration requests for the payment of patent renewal fees. However, in accordance with the new PTO practice based on a new guideline, restoration requests concerning renewal fees are not officially possible; the PTO has started to accept electronic copies of PoAs and of other documents related to recordations, and such electronic documents can contain either wet or digital signature; the proceedings before the PTO take longer than usual.
Courts —  resumed normal operations; oral hearings conducted with appropriate safety measures in place.

Estonia

PTO – applications and other documents can be filed in person at the reception desk or using the PTO’s mailbox, as well as electronically and by mail; patent applicants can submit an application for extension of time limits before the expiration of the due date; proceedings can be suspended and resumed in certain cases upon applicant’s request and payment of relevant official fees; restoration of time limits possible; extension of legal protection possible within six months after the expiration of the term of validity, upon payment of relevant fees
Courts – court offices open during normal working hours; deadlines observed; electronic means of communication recommended

Georgia

PTO – electronic filing is possible and encouraged, official documents can be filed and received by e-mail and e-filing systems; scanned copies of original documents accepted; no deadline extensions
Courts — most communication by electronic means; some hearings postponed until further notice

Kosovo (UNSCR 1244)

PTO – resumed normal operations; no e-filing, only hard copies of applications are accepted
Courts — resumed normal operations

Kyrgyzstan

PTO – business as usual, no changes in procedures
Courts – operating as usual; time limits to be observed

Latvia

PTO — communication and filing available in person, by e-mail, e-filing systems and regular mail; from October 12, 2020 until further notice, reception of visitors and on-site service available only by prior appointment; although there was no formal notification on the availability of accelerated examination for COVID-19-related patent applications, a request for accelerated examination can be filed with the PTO and it is likely to be approved.
Courts — visitors allowed by prior appointment only; parties are asked to communicate and file documents by electronic means or by leaving them in a special document box near the entrance; oral hearings are taking place when necessary, with preventive measures, however hearings in IP matters are predominantly held via videoconferencing (subject to consent of both parties).

Lithuania

PTO – most staff working remotely; most communication by e-mail and e-filing system; deadlines were suspended from from December 16, 2020 until March 15, 202 and currently they are suspended from March 27, 2021 until April 6, 2021
Courts –  until further notice, it is recommended for oral hearings to be held remotely via approved communication apps/programs; deadlines have not been extended; complaints can be submitted electronically; communication via e-filing system encouraged

Moldova

PTO – documents are accepted both electronically and physically; staff is working in shifts (2 weeks in the office and 2 weeks remotely)
Courts – closed until April 18, 2021
Note: Courier services operate as usual. Postal services are available, but delays may be possible, depending on the country.

Poland

PTO – resumed normal operations, although some staff working remotely; all forms of correspondence, including paper, accepted; regular hearings take place.
Courts — resumed normal operations

Slovak Republic

PTO – closed for public, any communication and filings can be made by post, electronic means, emails or telephone; PTO opening hours are 9 AM – 3 PM, thus payment instructions cannot be executed if received on the last day of the term; there has been no official suspension of time limits for the period of lockdown; the PTO has started to accept electronic copies of PoAs and of documents related to recordations; such electronic documents can contain either wet or digital signature.
Courts — gradual resumption of normal operations, oral hearings conducted in urgent or essential matters with appropriate anti-epidemic measures in place

Tajikistan

PTO – no changes, business as usual
Courts – no changes, business as usual
Note: Flights in and out of the country are restricted; delays possible with postal and courier services

Turkmenistan

PTO – business as usual; color copies of documents are accepted (with the exception of assignment and license recordations)
Courts – no changes, business as usual

PETOSEVIC REPRESENTATIVE

Brussels

Representative – working from home without interruption
Benelux PTO (BOIP) — resumed regular operations on May 25, 2020, but the measures taken by the Benelux IPO that were imposed in March 2020 got back in force on July 23, 2020, until further notice. Currently it is possible to visit the office by appointment only. BOIP’s online services are operating as usual and the Information Centre is available during office hours to answer questions by e-mail and phone. To deliver legal documents, bailiffs may make an appointment with one of their lawyers by sending a written request to legal@boip.int. Since most of BOIP’s staff works remotely without major interruptions, there are no waivers concerning deadlines.
Courts — a minimum level of service is granted and human presence is limited. The e-Deposit web portal allows citizens, companies and lawyers to remotely submit preliminary procedural documents and files to a court. Lawyers can also register via DPA-Deposit. A QR code has been introduced to authenticate extracts from criminal records. Criminal record excerpts sent to individuals include a QR code and an internet address, which is available for a period of three months. They enable the recipient to authenticate the document — the QR code is scanned with a smartphone connected to the internet or a URL address is entered. The recipient is automatically redirected to the source, the electronic version of the extract.

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