COVID-19 and IP: Waiver of IP Rules in Australia due to COVID-19

With the world still reeling from the decimating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the healthcare system and global economy, many businesses are struggling to keep their heads above the water.

Recognising this, IP Australia has put some waiver of IP rules in place to help affected businesses survive during the COVID-19 pandemic. The waivers include the following:

Deadline extensions

Deadlines for issues like paying fees, responding to reports, and other time-bound matters regarding IP protection may now be extended due to the impact of COVID-19. However, you have to apply for these extensions and understand that the requests are considered case-by-case.

To apply for an extension, you need to have a written declaration where you explain the circumstances preventing you or that have prevented you from meeting the deadline. Note, however, that deadline extensions are only relevant to patents, trademarks, and design extension requests.

If your business is concerned with plant breeder’s rights, the above provisions do not apply to you. Instead, click here to find out what you should do.

Oppositions and hearings

You can have your hearing via video conferencing, telephone calls, or written submissions. However, if you feel that none of these avenues suffice for you, and you will prefer an in-person hearing, please get in touch with us at BONDiP. We will be happy to facilitate this for you.

International patent applications

For information on the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the Madrid System, or WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center, please refer to WIPO's website.

If you are filing your international patent application using the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), Australia follows the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) recommendations. Summarily, the WIPO has a rule regarding the PCT known as Rule 82quater.1.

The Rule allows for delays in meeting PCT time limits due to reasons of force majeure. Force majeure covers situations like “war, revolution, civil disorder, strike, natural calamity… or other like reason”. Thus, the IB says they will consider the COVID-19 pandemic a natural calamity….or other like reason.

Regarding COVID-19 and the temporary waiver of IP rules affecting vaccines

Recent updates show that the World Trade Organization (WTO) is waiting on a small number of countries to accept a temporary waiver of IP rules regarding COVID-19 vaccines. If these countries accept the waiver, it will be easier to produce COVID-19 vaccines and drugs at larger scales and lower prices, thus saving more lives.

As of the time of writing this, September 15, 2021, Australia, being one of the countries the WTO is waiting on, is yet to announce its support of the temporary waiver of IP rules.

If you have any concerns regarding the safety of your intellectual property due to these waivers, contact BONDiP today to book a free consultation.