Belgian Intellectual Property Office

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Olivier Vrins

Partner

Updated on Thursday 4 June -1pm

 

In two Communications regarding COVID-19 which were circulated on 23 and 30 March 2020, the Belgian Intellectual Property Office (‘the Office’) informed the parties involved in procedures before it with regard to patents, supplementary protection certificates and plant variety rights that, where the legislation allows it, it is prepared to consider any requests for extension of time limits as favourably as possible. Time limits before the Belgian IPO are thus not extended automatically; individual requests for extension will be considered on a case by case basis. The Office is currently studying various possibilities and measures to be taken by the government in order to neutralize or mitigate the consequences of non-compliance with binding deadlines; further communications might follow later on in this respect.

Because the Office is aware that the parties involved in procedures before it may not be able to react to legal notifications during the current containment period, it has decided, not to send, as far as possible, any legal notifications that would have the effect of setting a new binding deadline that would be sanctioned by a loss of rights in the event of non-compliance, until 25 May 2020. However, an exception to this principle was made, in the parties’ advantage, when failure to send the legal notification that sets a new binding deadline could have a negative impact on the case or work against any of the parties (for example, if the Office found an irregularity that results in the filing date of an application not being established, the applicant will still be notified as soon as possible to avoid a detrimental delay of that filing date). In such cases, the Office tried as far as possible to send by e-mail a copy of the legal notification sent by registered post, provided the Office has this contact data.

In a new Communication of 13 May 2020, the Office informed its users that, with the partial and gradual lifting of the containment measures, as from 25 May 2020 it will start again to send notifications with binding deadlines that would be sanctioned by a loss of rights in the event of non-compliance. The Office invites its users to pay particular attention to the processing of these notifications in view of the legal effects they may have. As far as possible, the Office will send its users a courtesy copy by e-mail of such notifications. This is an exceptional and temporary practice which it will be reassessed after 30 June 2020. In the meantime, the Office will endeavor to use as much as possible the flexibility offered by the current legal framework. The documents and acts prescribed by law to respond to these notifications must be made by one of the authorized means of communication (email, fax, eOLF electronic filing or, if unavoidable, by personal appointment).

The (informal) search service "EPOQUE" provided by the IPO Information Section has been resumed from 25 May 2020. These searches, which are carried out via the patent databases of the European Patent Office and only accessible via the Brussels offices, are, however, only carried out in limited numbers as a first step. Requests for searches must be submitted exclusively via the email address: piie_doc@economie.fgov.be

The Office will continue to ensure service continuity to the users of the industrial property systems managed by the Office.

Do not hesitate to contact Olivier Vrins for further information.

The above information is merely intended as comment on relevant issues of Belgian law and is not intended as legal advice. Before taking action or relying on the comments and the information given, please seek specific advice on the matters that are of concern to you.

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