Measure extending deadlines
Since 16 March, we have been responding to the Dutch government's call for stricter measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. One of the measures we took was to extend deadlines in pending proceedings. This measure was announced on 20 March 2020 in an official communication from the Director General (DG) of BOIP (also known as a Rule issued by the DG). It was also stated that the measure would apply until further notice. Today a new DG Rule was published, setting 25 May 2020 as the end of the period during which deadlines were extended. The implications for you are explained below.
What does deadline extension mean?
Deadlines are time limits set by law, by which you are obliged to take action in a BOIP procedure, for example pay a fee, submit your arguments, file an opposition, etc. If you do not take action within the period of time allowed, there are usually legal consequences.
All deadlines applying to pending BOIP procedures have been extended to give our clients a little longer to respond, given the exceptional circumstances in which we now find ourselves. Thus, the period within which you should normally have taken action was extended, such that there were no legal consequences for failure to take action on time.
This extension applied to all deadlines, e.g. deadlines for examination on absolute grounds, the trademark renewal, opposition procedure and the cancellation procedure, but also for payment deadlines and regularization deadlines (for example for classification).
The measure on deadline extension applied from 16 March and was to until BOIP determined that IP professionals and other entrepreneurs in the Benelux could reasonably be expected to resume business as usual. That point was been dubbed the 'BAU date' (Business-As-Usual date).
Please note that the BAU date applies only to the enforcement of deadlines by BOIP. Our premises, for instance, will remain closed to the public and our employees will continue to work from home as practicable. We will inform you of the re-opening of our offices when the time comes via our website.
BAU date: until when does the deadline extension apply?
In today's DG Communication, the DG stated that business as usual would resume on 25 May, i.e. that date is the BAU date. In other words all new deadlines will apply in the usual way from 25 May.
In practical terms, this means:
All deadlines (including for payments) that expire or will expire between 16 March and 24 June inclusive will expire on 25 June 2020.
All deadlines currently running that expire on or after 25 June remain unchanged.
All deadlines set from 25 May onwards will be for the usual period, even if the later expires before 25 June. As these deadlines will be set after the BAU date, no extension will apply.
As regards oppositions, in cases where the deadline for filing an opposition against a trademark application expired or expires between 16 March and 24 June inclusive, opposition may be filed until 25 June inclusive. As a result, it is possible that your trademark has or will be registered in the Trademarks Register, but that opposition may yet be filed against it. The applications in question were published between 14 January and 24 April inclusive.
As usual, responses in opposition or cancellation proceedings filed before the deadline cause the period set to expire. This is the case unless that party explicitly states that it reserves the right to use the remainder of the period.
Also check out our FAQ page. You will find answers, with practical examples, to lots of questions about current deadlines there.
N.B.: Rules issued by the DG only govern matters at BOIP. Therefore, deadlines for appeals against BOIP decisions are unaffected by them. It falls to the Benelux Court of Justice to interpret these deadlines. To the best of our knowledge, the Court has not extended the deadlines for lodging appeals.
How do I know if the time extension applies to me?
Unfortunately, we are unable to inform our clients individually about the extensions to each pending deadline. It will come as no surprise that our systems are not geared to the exceptional situation in which we all find ourselves. We ask for your indulgence in this matter. To ascertain whether a time extension applies to you, please refer to the DG Communication of 20 March and the DG Communication of 25 May. Needless to say, we are doing our utmost to ensure that everything is in order as rapidly as possible in the interests of all.
What should I do if my deadline has been extended?
Has your deadline been extended? If so, we strongly encourage you not to wait until the end of the period to respond. Doing so, may result in you having to wait longer for confirmation or a response from us.