The CARES Act (March 27, 2020) provides the USPTO Director with authority to extend deadlines to account for our current national emergency regarding the COVID-19. Dir. Iancu today announced a set of extensions noting that “we are working to provide as much relief as possible to our stakeholders, consistent with our ability to maintain the USPTO’s fee-funded operations. We are especially mindful of the outsized impact on small businesses and independent inventors, and have provided additional relief for these groups. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure not only that inventors and entrepreneurs can weather the storm, but that they can hit the ground running once it passes.”
The basic rule is that most PTO prosecution deadlines March 27 to April 30 are eligible for a 30-day extension if filed with a statement that the delay “is due to the COVID-19 outbreak” and some party involved with the prosecution “was personally affected.” Here, the personal impact can apply to applicants, patent owners, 3rd party requesters, inventors, practitioners, etc. This list presumably includes non-human corporate owners. The “personally affected” clause is quite broad and includes office closures, cash flow interruptions, inaccessibility of files, travel delays, family illnesses, or other non listed reasons.
Read the rules: NOTICE of waiver of patent-related timing deadlines.
Note, the extension does not cover original filing deadlines; PCT or national stage filing deadlines; Deadlines for filing a non-provisional application following a provisional; or deadline for filing an inter partes review petition.
Finally, the notice says “Yes” — “The USPTO is open for the filing of patent documents and fees.”