With many Intellectual Property (IP) media sources citing a reduction in the number of IP filings since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak around the world, HSM IP is pleased to report that in May 2020 we saw a rise in trade mark and patent filings in the Caribbean and Latin America (this is based on the number of instructions received by our firm in May compared to an average month). Key business sectors making such filings include the pharmaceutical, technology and consumer goods sectors demonstrating that in these industries at least, innovation and new product launches are still thriving.

In the meantime, many Caribbean / LATAM Intellectual Property Offices / Registries ("IPOs") have started to reopen for business, either on a full-time or part-time basis and, the majority of those still physically closed continue to offer new ways of working to ensure that the rights of brand owners and innovators are still protected throughout the global crisis. HSM IP continues to monitor the situation in each country to ensure that clients have the most up-to-date information about what is possible IP-wise.

Our team at HSM IP is available to help clients find the most practical solutions to the various issues posed. In this article, we provide you with a brief update on what you can expect now and in the coming weeks.

We are pleased to report that IPOs in the following countries have now either reopened entirely or are operating on a reduced-hours basis: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Costa Rica, Curacao, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Montserrat, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay. Generally speaking, despite the fact that it is now largely "business as usual" in these countries from an IP-perspective, there is usually still some flexibility on deadlines before the respective IPOs given the ongoing crisis affecting businesses in the rest of the world.

IPOs which can process IP filings online include Argentina, Brazil, the Caribbean Netherlands (BES Islands), Chile, Colombia, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Peru, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, and Uruguay.

Meanwhile, in the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, Panama, and in the Turks and Caicos Islands, it is possible to submit new applications by email (although, in the Bahamas, the types of filings accepted are limited to new applications and renewals). Furthermore, in the Cayman Islands and in Turks and Caicos, IPO staff continue to process new applications remotely and IP gazettes continue to be published. However, to date no IP gazettes have been issued in the Bahamas in 2020. Furthermore, the last gazette was published in March 2019. Therefore, once things return to "normal" there is a real concern that publications will continue to be significantly delayed in the Bahamas. Also, in the Bahamas it typically takes two to three weeks after filing for the IPO to issue and provide the corresponding trade mark / patent number. However, as at 16 March 2020 (prior to the IPO closure further to the COVID-19 pandemic), the IPO had only issued application numbers for applications filed up to October 2019, so we expect further delays on this front too.

It is hoped that the currently closed IPOs in the following countries will reopen at some point in June 2020: Cuba, El Salvador, Guyana and Honduras. These IPOs are automatically extending key deadlines (e.g. renewal and office action deadlines) during the period of closure. Also, the Honduras IPO is accepting online filings during the period of closure for new applications and renewals only.

This article should be treated as a rough guide only as things are changing daily. HSM IP will continue to monitor developments in each country and is ready and able to provide tailored advice on specific queries as and when they arise. For further updates and information, please contact our Senior Associate, Sophie Peat at speat@hsmoffice.com.

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.