Background: In May 2020, USPTO temporarily opened its electronic patent filing system to plant patent applications to provide relief to the applicants during the pandemic. However, USPTO still requires paper filings,e.g. for priority claims, whereas some PBR offices, including CPVO, currently do not provide physical certified copies of such documents making it virtually impossible for breeders to meet the USPTO physical filing requirement.
Washington, D.C./Hamburg, September 15 - In a joint letter to USPTO, AmericanHort and CIOPORA asked the authority to waive the requirement to submit a paper certified copy of foreign priority documents for the time of the pandemic. The associations explained that such relief was necessary to place the plant patent applicants in a fair position when submitting an original certified copy is impossible by no fault of their own. Additionally, the associations demonstrated that CPVO was not issuing any physical documents for applications submitted during the ongoing quarantine and will not supply them at a later point.
USPTO currently requires that a certified copy of foreign application is filed no later than four months from the actual filing date of the plant patent application or 16 months from the filing date of the prior foreign application. The paper filings can be delayed until the issue of the plant patent, however such a procedure not only requires an official request but creates additional costs for applicants. The associations asked USPTO for a timely consideration of their request on behalf of breeders to provide further relief to applicants under the COVID-19 restrictions.