Latest update: 8 April 2020
We hereby inform respected clients that, as a consequence of the emergency situation caused by the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak, the procedures before the domestic courts, the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office, EUIPO, EPO and the WIPO will temporarily change as follows.
Regarding court proceedings, Art 1 of Government Decree 45/2020 (III.14.) announced extraordinary judicial pause in Hungary as of 15th March, 2020.
As opposed to regular, summer and winter judicial pauses there are no provisions in the Code of Civil Procedure relating to the extraordinary judicial pause, hence during this period we can rely on the legal instruments issued by the Government as well as the instructions and information of the judicial bodies, which we constantly monitor and keep our clients informed about.
Based on order No 35.SZ/2020. (III. 15.) OBHE of the President of the National Office for the Judiciary, during the extraordinary judicial pause courts hold no preparatory hearing, main hearing and public sessions. Urgent procedural events that require personal attendance must be held remotely, to the extent possible.
Order No. 37.SZ/2020. (III. 17.) OBHE provide detailed rules on the tasks courts continue to perform during the extraordinary judicial pause (e.g. writing down decisions, studying submissions, examining petitions and deciding on rejection where applicable, etc.).
According to Government Decree 74/2020 (III.31.), deadlines continue to run in civil litigation and nion contentious court proceedings. Exceptions to this rule are limited to the cases specified in the Decree. For example, if the deadline expires between 16 March and 15 April 2020, the deadline will be extended to 30 April.
Courts will not be holding preparatory hearings, and all hearings in the merits are either conducted remotely via electronic means or by obtaining written statements. In cases where no further procedural events are left, the court shall adjourn the hearing in writing and render its decision without hearing. In appeal and review proceedings, the parties may not request a hearing and even in case of an already scheduled hearing the court may choose to render its decision out-of-court. However, the parties may request the pause of the proceedings repeatedly, without limitation.
At the moment, in practice – as long as there is no effective legal provision to the contrary – the following are the most important information regarding intellectual property court proceedings, also taking into account our colleagues’ latest experiences with the courts’ orders in ongoing cases:
- Electronic communication with the Hungarian Courts is undisturbed, it remains fully possible to submit and receive court briefs and we continue of course to do so. Paper based filing with the courts are available through postal service and a collecting box at the courts’ premises.
- Deadlines given by the courts or following from procedural rules (e.g. appeal deadlines) are running normally, as long as there is no normative ruling to the contrary. There are limited changes to the deadlines, and our colleagues are there to inform you about those in pending cases.
- All procedural acts that do not require a hearing or personal presence may and must be performed respectively, including e.g. preliminary injunction proceedings related to the infringement of trademarks or patents. In case of requests for preliminary injunctions, there is no hearing, and the court decides on the basis of written submissions. If the court orders the application of the preliminary injunction, the time-limit for bringing an action on the merits shall begin to run only after the emergency situation has ceased.
- The court of first instance acts as a single judge, instead of councils and, where appropriate, specialized councils, which effects a number of industrial property proceedings.
Hungarian Intellectual Property Office (HIPO)
From March 18th the HIPO is only reachable by email or phone
The administration is presently primarily advised to be made electronically (https://ugyintezes.sztnh.gov.hu/eBej2/step1) or by mail (1438 Budapest, Pf. 415.). The automatic terminal for the submission of documents is continuously available at the central building at 7, II. János Pál Pápa square and personal submission is also available here, with restricted opening: 10:00-12:00 on workdays.
The concerning notice of the HIPO is available here:
According to the actual Communication published on the website of the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office (HIPO) on 3 April, the terms set by HIPO for clients in industrial property protection proceedings before the HIPO due on 31 March 2020 or afterwards shall be automatically extended until 4 May 2020, without a specific measure or notification.
European Patent Office (EPO)
On March 15, 2020, the EPO announced that time limits expiring on or after the date of the publication of said notice are extended to April 17, 2020. It was further announced that oral proceedings are either canceled or held via video conference. The continuously updated concerning Official EPO notices are available here:
European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO)
Based on the Decision No EX-20-3 of the Executive Director of the EUIPO of 16 March 2020 concerning the extension of time limits in the context of the COVID-19 emergency situation, all time limits expiring between 9 March and 30 April 2020 that affect all parties in proceedings before the Office is extended until May 1 which is practically May 4, Monday, since May 1 is a public holiday followed by a weekend).
The guidelines concerning the Executive Director’s Decision available at the EUIPO’s official website clarifies that the extension not only concerns the time limits set by the Office but also time limits provided by the EU Trade Mark Regulation and the Community Design Regulation and the respective implementing regulations (e.g. deadlines for oppositions, appeals, payments of official fees, renewals etc.), and even the 6 months priority deadline defined by the Paris Convention.
For more detailed information:
World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO)
In its Communication of 19 March 2020, WIPO drew the attention of users to changes in the regulation of the Madrid system concerning time limits as a consequence of the COVID-19 emergency situation (https://www.wipo.int/madrid/en/news/2020/news_0007.html), enabling the rectification of certain missed time limits. Offices of contracting states should inform the International Bureau of WIPO of the fact if they are not open to the public. A time limit that would expire on a day on which an Office is not open to the public expires on the first day after said Office is reopened.
The International Bureau of WIPO urges its clients to primarily use electronic communication in this special situation.
Further information is available here.
If you need any further information concerning the above, please contact us.