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What is the CARES Act?  CARES is the acronym for Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which is a $2 trillion relief bill signed by President Trump on March 27 of this year.  It is designed to provide workers, families and small businesses direct economic assistance.

Subsection 12004(a) of the CARES Act gives the director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) the authority to toll, waive, adjust or modify any timing deadlines of patent-related filings in effect during this emergency period.  On March 31, both the USPTO and the US Copyright Office announced their actions in response to, and in accordance with, the CARES Act.

They have implemented a grace period for certain fees and deadlines during the pandemic.  Any person who is unable to meet certain patent-related timing deadlines due to the COVID-19 outbreak may be eligible for a 30-day extension of the filing deadline.  To qualify for the deadline extension, the filing must have an original deadline falling on or between March 27, 2020, and April 30, 2020.  The filing must be accompanied by a statement that an individual associated (inventor/owner, patent/trademark applicant)  with the filing or payment had been personally affected by the virus outbreak.

The acceptable reasons are:

  • Office closures
  • Inaccessibility of files
  • Travel delays
  • Cash-flow interruptions
  • Personal or family illness

The declaration grants greater relief to small entities (with less than 500 employees) and independent inventors.  Relief of Maintenance Fee Payments deadline extensions applies only to small business and sole entrepreneurs.  Deadline extensions for filing Responses to Office Actions, Appeal Briefs and Issue Fee Payments are granted to all patent applicants affected by COVID-19.  The USPTO had also provided relief for certain Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) filings due on or between the March 27 and April 30 time frame.

Copyright applicants are also benefiting from the CARES act.   The Copyright Office is temporarily relaxing requirements for timely submission of required physical materials due to the inability to access the internet.  This compensates an applicant’s inability to register a copyright within the statutory time frame and enables them the ability to enforce their rights in the case of an infringement.  

To find out how all of the new grace periods and relief affects you, contact the professionals at Ference and Associates at 412.741.8400 or contact@ferencelaw.com.  We can also help you identify which, among the dozen, qualifying patent-related filings apply to you.