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7 May 2020Americas

USPTO temporarily allows online plant patent filings

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will allow plant patent applications to be filed online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has announced.

The USPTO, like other IP offices internationally, has taken steps in recent months to mitigate the disruption caused by pandemic to its normal operations and the IP system.

Last month, WIPR reported that the office had  waived fees for certain patent and trademark filings, using the new authority it gained under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The USPTO will now allow the filing of plant patent applications online “on a temporary basis until further notice,” an announcement from the office stated.

The news comes after an international association of plant breeders put out a  call for support during what it called a ‘critical’ period.

The  International Community of Breeders of Asexually Reproduced Ornamental and Fruit Varieties (CIOPORA) asked international governments to consider measures like extending deadlines for IP filings.

“Pinpointing that horticultural breeders are heavily hit by the ongoing crisis both due to diminishing demand for propagating material and the general labour restrictions, CIOPORA has also asked the authorities to consider additional financial relief measures,” said a statement from the group.

The USPTO announcement contains instructions on how to ensure the application is processed correctly, as the office’s systems did not previously allow for online plant patent filings.

Using the USPTO’s electronic filing system, applicants must indicate that they are filing a utility patent application and supply the appropriate documentation for their plant patent.

“The USPTO is continuing its efforts to modify Patent Center, the new electronic filing and retrieval system, so that plant patent applications can be filed electronically on a permanent basis,” the USPTO statement said.

Earlier this week, the office also launched a  new platform to support patent owners looking to make their technology available for the “prevention, treatment, and diagnosis” of COVID-19.

Known as Patents 4 Partnerships, the platform offers a “user-friendly, searchable repository of patents and published patent applications” that are available for licensing during the pandemic.

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