IP Australia has been providing free, streamlined extensions of time of up to three months if a deadline cannot be met due to the effects of COVID-19. However, streamlined extensions will not be available after 31 March 2021.
Streamlined extensions (until 31 March 2021)
The streamlined process has been available at IP Australia for requesting an extension of time of up to three months when an IP Rights holder is unable to meet a deadline due to the disruptive effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many deadlines for patents, trade marks and designs have been covered by the streamlined extensions of time.
No declaratory evidence or fee has been required; it has been possible to simply check the relevant box on IP Australia's eServices system to declare that the deadline cannot be met due to disruptions from the pandemic.
Requesting extensions of time at IP Australia for patents, trade marks and designs from 1 April 2021
If you are unable to meet a deadline due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will still be possible to request an extension of time. However, from 1 April 2021, a declaration will be required to explain why you cannot meet the deadline.
The grant of an extension of time due to the effects of the pandemic does involve an element of discretion. For patents, such extensions fall under section 223(2)(b) of the Patents Act 1990, according to which an extension of time "may" be provided if a deadline is missed because of "circumstances beyond the control of the person concerned".
Requests for extensions of time due to COVID-19 made from 1 April 2021 will be considered on a case-by-case basis and the Commissioner's/Registrar's review will consider the impacts of the pandemic.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.