TIPO’s Measures to Cope with the COVID-19 Outbreak

To date, the number of confirmed COVID-19 patients in Taiwan is kept well within the medical capacity, owing to the initiatives taken by both public and private sectors since early January 2020 to contain spread of the disease.

At the same time, the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office (TIPO) has taken measures to ensure its operational continuity along with offering regulatory relieves.  For example:

- On January 31, the TIPO announced on its website that it “will, in principle, review a request for restoration of right/claim on a lenient basis if the delay of statutory deadline is caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak, should it continue expanding” (the new disease had yet to be named by WHO as COVID-19 then.) 
  NOTE: Taiwan’s Patent Law and Trademark Law both provide that, if a statutory deadline is delayed due to a natural calamity or other cause(s) not attributable to the applicant, the applicant may, within 30 days after cessation of such cause, file a written request with the TIPO stating the cause(s) for delay and requesting for restoration of right/claim.  While requesting for restoration, the applicant should concurrently fulfill any and all obligations that should have been fulfilled within the concerned time period.  However, a request for restoration is not accepted if the delay has exceeded one year after expiration of the statutory deadline, even in a case of natural calamity.
- Since March 12, 2020, the TIPO has put in place stricter entry restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  All workers at TIPO as well as visitors are subject to forehead temperature checks by security guards at the entrance to the lobby of the building where TIPO is located (and shares with a few private entities).  Anyone whose forehead temperature is tested over 37.5 degrees Celsius is denied entrance into the building.  The other entrances that used to be accessible have been closed entirely. 
- Hearings in invalidation actions have been stopped de facto since November 2019 and there is no hint the TIPO might open ex officio any new hearing this year.  However, interviews in invalidation actions are still held as in the past, since, unlike hearings, interviews are not open to the public.
  NOTE: Please refer to our Newsletter for a brief introduction to the hearing system that was introduced into Taiwan’s invalidation actions in March 2018.  A hearing can be held either (1) by the TIPO ex officio or (2) in response to an application filed by either of the parties involved in an invalidation case.  However, all the 14 invalidation hearings the TIPO ever held were ex officio.  As the amendments to the Patent Law that took effect on November 1, 2019 impose stringent time limit in invalidation proceedings, the parties as well as the TIPO find less merit in initiating a hearing.

We will continue monitoring and providing reports on TIPO’s measures and policies that help applicants steer through this unusual event.