The Ukrainian Intellectual Property Office (UIPO) is working around the clock to secure the intellectual property rights (IPRs) system in the country.
On 24 February 2022, the Martial Law was introduced which, among other things, establishes a safety framework in case certain deadlines affecting IPRs cannot be respected, considering that circumstances of “force majeure” are present. However, the text of the law raised doubts regarding the time limits involving IP right holders who are not Ukrainian citizens or are not domiciled in Ukraine.
To address these concerns, the Law 2174-IX “On the Protection of IPRs during Martial Law in connection with the military aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine” was adopted on 1 April 2022 and entered into force on 13 April.
The said Law clarifies the situation in that it provides:
- The suspension of the time limits for the protection and acquisition of IPRs, trademarks, inventions, utility models, industrial designs, semiconductor topographies, geographical indications, copyrights and plant varieties, during the period of the Martial Law, as of 24 February 2022. In addition to the general time limits for the processing and maintenance of IPRs provided for in the relevant IP laws, the suspension also affects the time limits for:
- filing oppositions against applications for national trademarks and international registrations designating Ukraine;
- challenging decisions of the UIPO in court;
- file appeals before the Board of Appeal of the UIPO;
- file patent invalidity actions;
- or file applications for reinstatement of unobserved time limits, etc.
- The continued validity of IPRs for which time limits have been suspended.
- The possibility to pay maintenance fees (renewal and annuity fees), which were due or expire within the period of Martial Law, within 90 days after the lifting of the Martial Law regime, without paying any extension or reinstatement fees.
- The possibility for IPR holders to take the necessary actions for their protection and defence, i.e. file applications, responses to objections or oppositions, etc., within 90 days after the lifting of the Martial Law regime, without paying any extension or reinstatement fee.
According to the said Law, these time limits shall be counted from the day following the date on which the Martial Law regime ceases or is lifted.
The above provisions do not imply that holders are exempted from the obligation to take all the steps required to secure and protect their IPRs.