As the COVID-19 pandemic sends shockwaves through society and impacts all businesses–including those in the cannabis and hemp industries–in countless ways, trademarks often take a back seat to more pressing concerns. Recognizing that trademarks nonetheless remain crucial assets of many businesses, the federal government recently took action in a way that stands to affect trademark matters for many cannabis and hemp companies. The recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) contains important guidelines regarding trademark-related filings and deadlines.
USPTO Deadline Extensions
Subsection 12004(a) of the CARES Act provides that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) may toll, waive, adjust or modify any timing deadline established by the Trademark Act or its governing regulations. Pursuant to this subsection, the USPTO extended the time to file certain trademark-related documents or fees. The deadline for certain filings and payments that would have been due between March 27, 2020 and May 31, 2020 have been extended to June 1, 2020, provided that the filing is accompanied by a statement that the delay was due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The due-date extensions encompass many key filings, including:
- Office Action responses;
- Statement of use submissions;
- Requests for extensions of time to file statements of use;
- Notice of opposition submissions;
- Requests for extensions of time to file notices of opposition; and
- Priority filing basis requests.
Waived USPTO Petition Fees
In addition to these deadline extensions, for Trademark applications that were abandoned and registrations that were canceled/expired due to an inability to timely respond to a Trademark-related Office communication as a result of the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, the USPTO has also waived the petition fee to revive the abandoned application or reinstate the canceled/expired registration. This offers many trademark applicants with a unique opportunity to preserve their trademark filings.
The USPTO also noted that it remains open for filing of trademark documents and fees. These extensions provide many companies with an opportunity to focus on trademark matters that may have been on the back-burner while other business activities took priority. Cannabis and hemp companies can take this time to focus on brand development, so that they can emerge from the COVID-19 crisis well situated for growth.
The cannabis and hemp industry trademark attorneys at Rogoway Law Group are standing by to assist with your trademark needs. We can guide you through new trademark projects and also help answer questions about whether or how these USPTO extensions impact to your business. Please reach out if we can be of any assistance!