Interrupted days, a term which we looked at when considering the changes that the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) had put in place in response to the pandemic here, has assumed much greater importance for trade mark owners and that importance is reflected in further changes.
Before March 2020, the term was tucked away in the Trade Marks Rules 2008 and was no doubt overlooked or unfamiliar to many, but by 24 March, it had come to the forefront of trade mark practitioners’ and trade mark owners’ minds and caused confusion and uncertainty.
On 7 May 2020, the period of interrupted days was extended until 28 May 2020, when it will be reviewed.
The purpose of the interrupted days is to deal with a situation where an event means the IPO cannot fulfil its services as normal or there is a disruption to postal services. The result is that deadlines are extended until the interrupted days end.
This means tribunal proceedings, such as oppositions, and similarly trade mark applications, have been affected and have suffered delays.
Trade mark applications
Those who had applications published (for opposition purposes) when the interrupted days were announced should have found out by now if their application has been opposed or proceeded to registration; however, because the deadline for filing an opposition has been extended, they are in limbo.
Once an application has been published, the applicant can receive a Notice of Threatened Opposition (from a party seeking to oppose it) which extends the opposition period from two to three months. This should be filed before the two-month opposition period ends. However, due to the interrupted days, this notice can now be filed after the deadline, which has the effect of the opposition period effectively lasting until the interrupted days end.
This is also affecting new applications for the same reason.