The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) has taken various actions in response to the COVID-19 health crisis. All USPTO offices have been closed to the public since March 16, 2020, though USPTO personnel continue to review filings with ongoing communication to applicants, petitioners, and other parties through remote means. Additionally, relying on inherent administrative powers to alleviate “extraordinary circumstances,” the USPTO has authorized the waiver of certain petition fees for those impacted by the coronavirus, as well the general waiver of the requirement for original, handwritten signatures on certain submissions. More action from the USPTO is expected in the coming days pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which grants additional “emergency relief authority” to the USPTO Director (and the Register of Copyrights) to temporarily “toll, waive, adjust, or modify, any timing deadline” established by law or federal regulation in order to mitigate the impact of disruption to regular business caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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