Important information regarding the functioning of our Office during the state of epidemic declared because of the COVID-19

Dear Colleagues, 

To begin with, we sincerely hope that you are in good health in those uncertain and difficult times.

On last Tuesday the Act of 31 March 2020 amending the act on special solutions concerning preventing, countering and combatting COVID-19, other contagious diseases and crisis situations caused by them, and several other acts, came into force in Poland (we have previously reported on the course of the legislative procedure that it has undergone). 

The Act introduces several crucial solutions pertaining to the running of time limits. We are presenting them in their final shape below. 

Firstly, we would like to point out that during a state of a risk of epidemic or a state of epidemic declared because of the COVID-19, the running of time limits that are appointed by the regulations of administrative law does not begin, and if it has already begun, it shall be suspended. According to Article 15 zzz Section 1, this rule applies to the following time limits:

— time limits that must be observed in order to obtain the legal protection before the courts or other bodies;

— time limits for performing actions that create rights or obligations of a party;

— limitations; 

— time limits of such a kind that a party’s failure to observe them results in the expiration or modification of rights in property, the expiration or modification claims or a delay; 

— peremptory dates of such a kind that in a case of party’s failure to observe them, he or she suffers negative consequences;

— as well as time limits for subjects and organizational units whose entry into proper registries is obligatory, to perform actions that shall be declared in the registry, as well as time limits for performing by those subjects obligations stemming from the provisions on their organization (Article 15zrr Section 1). 

It needs to be highlighted that the provision of Article 15zrr Section 5 states that actions carried out in purpose of exercising rights or performing duties in this period, shall be effective. 

Furthermore, according to Article 15 zzs Section 1, in the aforementioned time period the running of procedural time limits does not begin, and if it has already begun, it shall be suspended: this applies to administrative, court and administrative court proceedings, however — as Article 15 zzz Section 7 declares — actions performed in this time frame shall be effective. According to Article 15 zzs Section 6, in the time of a risk of epidemic or a state of epidemic declared because of the COVID-19, no trials nor open court sittings shall take place, except for urgent matters listed in Article 14a Section 4-5.

Another solution of great importance can be found in Article 31j Section 1 of the Act that concerns especially the validation of European patents: it determines what happens to the running of time limits to submit a translation of a European patent before the Polish Patent Office, as well as a time limit to submit a translation of limited and amended patents. According to Article 31j Section 1, in the period starting on 8 March 2020 and ending on 30 June 2020 the running of those times limit does not begin, and if it has already begun, its course should be interrupted and its running shall begin anew on the 1st of July of 2020.

The phrasing of this provision deserves particular attention — since the legislator used a term interrupted instead of suspended, when the running of the time limits for the actions indicated in this provision resumes on the 1st of July, they will be calculated from beginning. However, it does not mean that actions related to validation cannot be performed earlier. The provision of Article 31j Section 2 clearly states that actions performed in the period from 8 March 2020 to 30 June 2020, shall be valid. This is why we do not recommend postponing the performance of any of such actions.

Moreover, it is also necessary to mention that the regulations of Article 31j of the Act shall also apply to oppositions to trademark applications. 

Please take note that the regulations we are discussing do not have any impact on determining application date, nor the priority date. Taking this into account, we strongly encourage you to submit applications at the earliest possible time. 

We would like to assure you that we are continuously at your disposal. We have responded to this unexpected situation by implementing new solutions in the organization of our work and — even though we transitioned to the home office mode — we are fully operational and committed to handling your cases and providing you any assistance that you might need. In particular, we would like to inform you, that while introducing necessary technical and organizational adjustments, we took special precautions in order to guarantee the high standard of protection of data. 

Should you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact our Office.