From 22 April 2020, the Australian Intellectual Property Office (IP Australia) has a streamlined process to provide free extensions of time of up to three months to assist applicants impacted by COVID-19 outbreak.
Australian legislation provides generous provisions for obtaining extensions of time when a deadline is missed or cannot be met because of circumstances beyond the control of the person concerned.
It appears that IP Australia has now acknowledged that if a customer has missed or cannot meet a deadline due to the disruptive effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, this would be considered a circumstance beyond the control of the person concerned. Consequently, IP Australia has advised that an extension of time of no more than 3 months can be obtained simply by the submission of a short declaration using standard text. The normal extension fees will be waived. No further supporting evidence or explanation appears to be required.
This streamlined extension process applies to most Patents, Trade marks and Designs deadlines that were extendible under the existing provisions, such as requesting examination or obtaining acceptance, and also arguably for deadlines relating to the filing of evidence during opposition proceedings. The process is not applicable to extensions of time for payment of renewal or continuation fees.
These arrangements are available up to 31 May 2020. However, IP Australia will continue to monitor the impacts of the outbreak and assess whether these streamlined extensions will be provided beyond this period.
Separate arrangements are available for Plant Breeders Rights (PBRs). In essence, the Registrar has discretion to allow further time for certain actions at no cost, including: providing detailed description of the variety and submitting evidence during opposition periods.
If you become aware of a case that requires an extension due to the impacts of COVID-19, please contact us.
We have briefly summarised below the position of the Australian Intellectual Property Office (IP Australia) and the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office (IPONZ) as of 23 April 2020. We will endeavour to provide updates as they become available.
Australian Intellectual Property Office (IP Australia)
IP Australia has set up a dedicated page on their website providing the most up to date information, including details of the streamlined process for obtaining an extension of time:
Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ)
IPONZ has indicated that it may change the due dates for a number of cases and tasks in acknowledgment of the disruption caused by the impact of the response to COVID-19. These include deadlines to respond to examination reports and timeframes for putting an application in order for acceptance. This will be determined on a case-by-case basis but will be treated both favourably and in a timely manner. Further information can be found in their website: