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Hong Kong - Notice of Interruption in The Operations of The Intellectual Property Department (including Patents, Designs and Trade Marks Registries)

By Evelyne Yeung

Due to the recent outbreak of novel coronavirus in the community, the Hong Kong Intellectual Property Department (“IPD”) has issued the fourth notice of interruption in the operations of Patents Registry, Designs Registry and Trade Marks Registry in Hong Kong since 28 January 2020.

The IPD will review the situation on weekly basis to ascertain whether further notice of interruption will be issued. 

Under the current interrupted period, the IPD will maintain limited services as follows:

  • Online search – public can conduct search via Public Online search System

  • E-filing – e-filers can file applications or other documents electronically via E-Filing System

  • Publication of the Hong Kong Intellectual Property Journal on every Friday

  • Public Service Counter on 24/F, Wu Chung House, but the operation hours will start from 1:00 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. on 17 (Mon), 19 (Wed) and 21 (Fri) of February only

  • Enquiry Hotline at 2961 6901/2961 6820

Documents sent to the Trade Marks, Designs and Patents Registries on 24/F Wu Chung House by post will not be affected by the interrupted period.

Points to note during the interrupted period:

Trade Marks Registry

  • Notice of deficiencies

The deadline to remedy deficiencies originally set out in a Registrar’s deficiency notice issued under rule 11 of the Trade Mark Rules will be extended to a date specified in the Notice of Interruption, which will be the Registry’s first business day next following the day which interruption ends.

Pursuant to the Notices of Interruption issued in 2020 recently on 28 January, 1 February, 8 February and 14 February respectively (“said Notices of Interruption”), if the deadline falls on any day between 29 and 31 January, 3 and 7 February, 10 and 14 February, or 17 and 21 February 2020, it will be extended to 24 February 2020 (“New Deadline”).

  • Notice of Registrar’s opinion

Likewise, the deadline originally set out in the Registrar’s notice of opinion will be extended as indicated above.  The deadline is extendable under Trade Marks Rule 13(3) and (5), the request for extension of time is likewise extended to the New Deadline.  The applicant is reminded to take the appropriate actions by the New Deadline to keep the application pending.

  • Opposition proceedings

The deadline to be observed in opposition proceeding is not necessarily be extended during the interrupted period.  If the original deadline falls on a date which is covered in such Notice, the deadline will be automatically extended to the first business day next following the day which interruption ends (“New Deadline”).

However, if the original deadline is a non-extendible time limit under the Trade Marks Rules, the parties to the proceeding are reminded to take the appropriate actions by the New Deadline to preserve their right in the proceeding. 

  • Serving of documents on other party

For contentious matters, e.g. opposition, the deadline is determined by reference to the date of receipt of a document from the other party (e.g. for filing a counter-statement under rule 17(1) of the Trade Mark Rules), the deadline would begin to run from the date of receipt of the document (i.e. the notice of opposition).  Hence, whether or not the date of receipt falls on a date covered in a Notice of Interruption should not be affected on the computation of the deadline for the other party take in the next step.

Patents and Designs Registries

Generally, the deadline for patent and design matters will be extended to the first business day of the Patents / Designs Registry next following the day which the interruption ends.  Notwithstanding of the extension of deadline during the interrupted period, if the maintenance / renewal fee is paid via the e-filing system after lapse of the original deadline but before the lapse of the extended deadline, the applicant/owner is still required to pay an additional fee for the “late” payment due to the electronic system constraint under the e-filing system.   However, it is possible to request for refund of such addition fee by written request.

Entries in the online registers

While the IPD will try their best to update the entries in the online registers of patents, designs and trade marks, there may still be discrepancies in exceptional cases of those entries.  In case the status of particular patent, design or trade mark application or registration is not correctly shown on the online register of patents / designs, the party can contact the IPD so that they could look into case and update the entries accordingly.

Should you have any queries relating to the article, please feel free to contact Evelyne Yeung ([email protected]).

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