Due to the spread of COVID-19, the Swiss Federal Council on 20 March, 2020, extended the normal judicial vacations. They now apply from 21 March to 19 April 2020. The specific effects of this suspension depend on the applicable procedural law. In other words, the situation is legally no different from the normal judicial vacations. In addition, however, the Swiss Federal Council has decreed that the suspension also applies to deadlines set by public authorities or courts if their end date falls between 21 March and 19 April 2020. This suspension goes beyond the provisions that apply during the normal judicial vacations and has varying impacts on ongoing proceedings. The respective ordinance is available here.
This ordinance affects time limits in trademark proceedings before the Swiss Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) as follows:
- Due to the extension of the normal judicial vacations, statutory time limits or those set by the IPI that are stipulated in days are suspended until 19 April 2020. It is important to note that not all time limits are affected. Time limits that are stated in months or years are not affected. In particular, this means that the time limit to file an opposition (i.e. 3 months) is not affected.
- Deadlines set by the IPI, and therefore set officially by a public authority, with an end date between 21 March and 19 April 2020 now expire on 20 April 2020. This means that all deadlines set by the IPI in national and international proceedings are affected.
Further information can be found on the official webpage of the IPI.
Please note that the suspension of proceedings before the IPI is different from the one applicable to proceedings before the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). All deadlines that expire between 9 March 2020 and 30 April 2020 and affect parties in proceedings before the EUIPO have been extended until 1 May 2020 (in practice 4 May, since 1 May is a public holiday, followed by a weekend). All time limits are affected, irrespective of whether they have been set by the EUIPO or are statutory time limits. This means, the time limit to file an opposition is affected, which is - as pointed out above - not the case in Switzerland. Further information can be found on the official webpage of the EUIPO.
In the current situation we advise to verify every deadline carefully.