Posted on 8/11/2020 4:30:28 PM By Francyn Brown

We have been monitoring the federal and state courts, as well as the USPTO and WIPO, for updates on their operations in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. These updates are current as of the dates indicated herein. Due to the unpredictable nature of this pandemic, this article will be updated periodically with new changes.
 
Northern District of Illinois
Updated: August 11, 2020 4:00pm CT
 
Update: On July 10, 2020, the Northern District of Illinois, via Chief Judge Pallmeyer, entered a new COVID-19 Public Emergency Order (the Fifth Amended General Order) stating that all previous General Orders re COVID-19 are vacated.[1] This Fifth Amended General Order provides that the Court remains open and accessible, subject to certain procedures and limitations, including that all public gatherings are suspended through September 14, 2020.  This order also states that case hearings, bench trials, and settlement conferences may be scheduled and conducted by remote means and in-court hearings are limited to urgent matters that cannot be conducted remotely.   
 
Update: On May 27, 2020, Chief Judge Wood of the Seventh Circuit and Chief Judge Pallmeyer of Northern District of Illinois issued an order that, “effective immediately, all persons seeking entry to, or occupying the courthouses, must wear a face covering or face mask in public areas of the courthouses.”[2]
 
Update: On May 26, 2020, the Northern District of Illinois entered a new COVID-19 Public Emergency Order (the Fourth Amended General Order).[3]  This Fourth Amended General Order provides the following:
  • The Fourth Amended General Order does not further extend any deadlines in civil cases
  • Civil jury trials will not be conducted before August 3, 2020, and trials set to begin before August 3, 2020 will be reset
  • No courtesy copies may be submitted for filings made through July 15, 2020
 
On April 24, 2020, the Northern District of Illinois entered a new COVID-19 Public Emergency Order (the Third Amended General Order) that vacates and supersedes the March 20, 2020 and March 30, 2020 Orders.[4]  The March 30, 2020 Order (the Second Amended General Order) extended all deadlines by an additional 28 days to the 21-day extension granted by the March 20, 2020 Amended General Order. This Third Amended General Order extends deadlines in civil cases by an additional 28 days to the Second Amended General Order.  The extension is subject to the following exceptions:
  • Does not affect the rights to or deadlines concerning any appeal from any decision of this Court in a civil case
  • Does not grant an extension of any deadlines imposed by Civil Rules 50(b) or (d), 52(b), 59(b), (d), or (e), or 60(b)
  • For good cause, the presiding judge may—on the judge’s own motion or on a party’s motion—extend, shorten, or revoke the 28-day extension
 
The Third Amended General Order also provides:
  • The District Court Clerk’s Office in the Dirksen United States Courthouse in Chicago, Illinois, is closed to public entry through May 29, 2020
  • Civil case hearings, bench trials, and settlement conferences scheduled for on or before May 29, 2020 are stricken and are to be reset for after June 1, 2020
  • Civil jury trials scheduled for on or before June 26, 2020 are stricken, to be re-set by the presiding judge to a date on or after June 29, 2020
  • In any civil case where no docket entry or order has been posted by the assigned judge since March 16, 2020, the parties shall file a joint written status report by May 18, 2020
 
On March 17, 2020, Chief Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer issued an amended order regarding the Court’s response to the coronavirus public emergency.[5] To protect public health, the Court ordered a number of procedural and operational changes, which include the following highlights:
  • Deadlines in civil cases are extended by 21 days
  • Electronic filing remains available and, in emergency situations subject to resources, phone or video conferences will be available
  • Civil hearings, trial, and settlement conferences between March 17, 2020, until April 3, 2020, are stricken and will be reset on or after April 6, 2020.
  • Deadlines for notice of appeals remain but extensions filed no later than 30 days the court will deem that good cause exists in light of public-health concerns
  • The Court will vacate, amend, or extend the order no later than April 3, 2020
 
Further, effective March 20, 2020 (the Amended General Order), Chief Judge Pallmeyer issued an order specifically in regards to Clerk’s office operations (to be vacated, amended, or extended no later than April 3, 2020).[6]  The highlights of this order are as follows:
  • The Clerk’s Office at the Dirksen Courthouse in Chicago and the Roszkowski Courthouse in Rockford, as well as the judges’ chambers, will be closed to the public. As such, filings can be: (i) electronically filed, (ii) deposited in the drop-box in the lobby at Dirksen or on the 2nd Floor at Roszkowski, or (iii) mailed to U.S. District Court Clerk’s Office, 219 South Dearborn Street, 20th Floor, Chicago, IL 60604 (Eastern Division) or 327 South Church Street, Rockford, IL 61101 (Western Division)
  • Courtesy copy requirements are suspended
  • For emergency matters, parties are directed to email Emergency_Judge@ilnd.uscourts.gov during business hours (7:00 am to 6:00 pm)
 
Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
Updated: August 11, 2020 4:00pm CT
 
Update: On August 3, 2020 the Seventh Circuit issued an updated order providing that cases scheduled for oral argument through December 31, 2020 will be argued telephonically or by video communications, with audio livestreamed to YouTube, where previously this applied only to oral arguments scheduled through August 31, 2020.[7]
 
Update: On June 23, 2020, the Seventh Circuit vacated its March 31, 2020 order suspending the paper copy requirements "for all electronically filed briefs, appendices, and petitions for rehearing."[8] Therefore, all parties are now required to submit paper copies for all electronically filed briefs, appendices, and petitions for rehearing pursuant to F.R.A.P. 30(a)(3), C.R. 31(b) and C.R. 40(b). This June 23 order also provided that "the clerk's office may require parties to provide paper copies of briefs, appendices and petitions previously submitted electronically."[9]
 
Update: On March 31, 2020 the Seventh Circuit issued an order regarding paper copy requirements.[10] The Order provides that “the court suspends the paper copy requirements for all electronically filed briefs, appendices, and petitions for rehearing… This suspension does not apply to any cases currently scheduled for oral argument… paper copies must still be served upon pro se litigants.”
 
The Seventh Circuit’s operations appear ongoing.  On March 18, 2020, Chief Judge Diane P. Wood issued an order regarding COVID-19.[11] The order provided that the Court has activated its Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) and all employees who are unable to telework are on administrative leave from March 18, 2020 to the termination of this Order.
 
Also on March 18, 2020, the Court issued a notice to counsel and the public that “all cases scheduled for oral argument from March 30, 2020 through the end of April, 2020 will be argued telephonically by counsel” and that the courtroom will be closed to the public.[12]
 
The Seventh Circuit’s website maintains an up-to-date oral argument calendar and can be accessed at the following link: http://www.ca7.uscourts.gov/calendar/calendar.htm. The Seventh Circuit advises attorneys to review this calendar for information relevant to oral argument schedules.
 
The Court continues to release Final Opinions and Orders to date.
 
USPTO Trademark Information
Updated: June 3, 2020 12:00pm CT
 
Update: On June 3, 2020 the USPTO launched a COVID-19 Response Resource Center to “provide stakeholders and other interested parties with improved access to USPTO initiatives, programs, and other helpful intellectual property (IP)-related information regarding the COVID-19 outbreak.”[13] The resource center allows users to easily view information on a number of critical initiatives to aid the public throughout the ongoing crisis.
 
Update: On May 27, 2020, the USPTO issued an updated notice to its previous March 31, 2020 Notice and April 28, 2020 Notice stating that the extensions from these notices will expire on May 31, 2020.[14]
 
This notice also states as follows:
 
As businesses begin to reopen or resume operations, some stakeholders will continue to require relief, particularly small businesses and individuals. Under the CARES Act authority and its existing authority in Trademark and TTAB matters, the USPTO will direct relief to those who need it on a case-by-case basis, as described below.
 
  • Applicants who were unable to submit a timely response or fee in response to an Office communication should file a petition to revive the application. See 37 CFR §§ 2.6(a)(15), 2.66.
  • Applicants who missed the 36-month statutory deadline for filing a Statement of Use, and therefore their application has been abandoned, should use the TEAS “Petition to the Director” form. See 37 CFR § 2.146.
  • Registrants who missed a statutory deadline, resulting in a cancelled/expired registration, or who were unable to submit a timely response or fee in response to an Office communication regarding a registration, should use the TEAS “Petition to the Director” form. See 37 CFR § 2.146.
 
Update: On March 31, 2020, the USPTO issued notice regarding the extension of time to file certain trademark documents pursuant to the CARES Act Subsection 12004.[15] The notice provides that the following due dates will be extended by 30 days, provided that the filing is accompanied by a statement that the delay in filing or payment was due to the COVOID-19 outbreak (“if the person associated with the filing or fee was personally affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, including, without limitation, through office closures, cash flow interruptions, inaccessibility of files or other materials, travel delays, personal or family illness, or similar circumstances, such that the outbreak materially interfered with timely filing or payment”):
 
  1. response to an Office action, including a notice of appeal from a final refusal;
  2. statement of use or request for extension of time to file a statement of use under 15 U.S.C. § 1051(d) and 37 C.F.R. §§ 2.88(a) and 2.89(a);
  3. notice of opposition or request for extension of time to file a notice of opposition under 15 U.S.C. § 1063(a) and 37 C.F.R. §§ 2.101(c) and § 2.102(a);
  4. priority filing basis under 15 U.S.C. § 1126(d)(1) and 37 C.F.R. § 2.34(a)(4)(i);
  5. priority filing basis under 15 U.S.C. § 1141g and 37 C.F.R. § 7.27(c);
  6. transformation of an extension of protection to the United States into a US. application under 15 U.S.C. § 1141j(c) and 37 C.F.R. § 7.31(a);
  7. affidavit of use or excusable nonuse under 15 U.S.C. § 1058(a) and 37 C.F.R. § 2.160(a);
  8. renewal application under 15 U.S.C. § 1059(a) and 37 C.F.R. § 2.182; or
  9. affidavit of use or excusable nonuse under 15 U.S.C. § 1141k(a) and 37 CFR. § 736(1)).
 
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a notice, dated March 16, 2020, regarding the coronavirus, deeming it an “extraordinary situation.”[16] The USPTO is waiving certain petition fees for trademark applications and registrations that were abandoned or canceled/expired due to inability to timely respond to a trademark-related Office communication as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak. This opportunity for potential relief, however, only applies to deadlines set by regulations, not statutes. The notice does not give guidelines on what situation would warrant relief. But it provides that the “Petition to Revive Abandoned Application” form should be used for abandoned applications and the “Petition to the Director” form should be used for canceled/expired registrations.  In all cases, “the petition must include a statement explaining how the failure to respond to the Office communication was due to the effects of the Coronavirus outbreak.” It also must be filed within two months from the issue date of the notice of abandonment or cancellation. If the applicant or registrant does not receive any notice, then a petition must be filed within six months after the date of abandonment or cancellation/expiration. Last but not least, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) will be conducting hearings remotely by video or telephone.
 
The following statutory trademark-related time periods are not extended and statutory fees are not waived: (1) the 36-month period set forth in 15 U.S.C. § 105l(d) within which a statement of use must be filed and the associated fee(s); (2) the periods set forth in 15 U.S.C. §§ 1058, 114 l(k) for filing affidavits of continued use or excusable nonuse and the associated fee(s); (3) the period set forth in 15 U.S.C. § 1059 for filing a renewal and the associated fee(s); and (4) the periods set forth in 15 U.S.C. §§ 1063 and 1064 for filing an opposition or cancellation proceeding at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
The USPTO has also waived the original handwritten signature requirement and will accept copies of handwritten signatures.[17]
 
Copyright Office Updates
Updated: April 1, 2020 12:00pm CT
 
Update: On March 31, 2020, the Copyright Office released a public notice regarding registration timing requirements as they relate to statutory remedies.[18] The adjustments are as follows:
  • For copyright applications that can be submitted entirely in electronic form (i.e., those that do not require submission of a physical deposit), the timing provisions are unchanged.
  • If an applicant can submit an application electronically but is unable to submit a required physical deposit, the applicant should upload, together with the application, a declaration or similar statement certifying, under penalty of perjury, that the applicant is unable to submit the physical deposit and would have done so but for the national emergency, and setting forth satisfactory evidence in support. If this requirement is met, the three-month window for registration will be extended.
  • If an applicant is unable to submit an application electronically or physically during the disruption, the applicant may submit an application after the Acting Register has announced the end of the disruption, and include a declaration or similar statement certifying, under penalty of perjury, that the applicant was unable to submit an application electronically or physically and would have done so but for the national emergency, and providing satisfactory evidence in support. If this requirement is met, the three-month window for registration will be extended.
 
The U.S. Copyright Office has issued some procedural changes in light of the Coronavirus pandemic but has maintained that it will continue its services.[19] All Library of Congress buildings, including the U.S. Copyright Office, will be closed to the public until Wednesday, April 1, 2020 at 8:30am. Users of the U.S. Copyright Office serves may submit applications online, browse FAQs, and submit emails with questions through copyright.gov or call (202)707-3000. The Office will also continue receiving registration applications and recorded documents sent by mail but will be delayed as paper applications will not be examined at this time.  Staff of the Records Research and Certification Section continue to offer search, records certification, and other services but there will likely be unavoidable delays in processing times.
 
For electronic applications that require physical deposits of the best edition, applicants must still send physical deposits but they may also upload an electronic deposit of that same work with a declaration or similar certifying statement that the electronic deposit is identical to the physical deposit.
 
Refusal letters will only be sent via email to the email address provided in the reconsideration request.[20] Responses to first requests for reconsideration will include instructions on how to submit a second request for reconsideration.
 
Unrelated to the Coronavirus, fees for many services have increased as of March 20, 2020.[21]
 
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Updates
Updated: March 26, 2020 2:00pm CT
 
On March 20, 2020, WIPO issued an update on its coronavirus operations.[22] WIPO closed its premises and instructed its employees to work remotely.  WIPO is continuing to process domain name disputes under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) and other alternative dispute resolution cases.
 
FORUM
 
The Uniform Rapid Suspension System, or URS, appears to be functioning business as usual. A quick search of the URS Decisions reveal that the most recent decision was issued on March 25, 2020.[23] Additionally, the search also shows that the Forum processed URS complaints filed this week. Because, like the UDRP complaints, the proceedings are based on electronic filings, it is unlikely that there will be a disruption in proceeding.
 
Illinois State Courts
Updated: March 30, 2020
 
On March 30, 2020, the Chief Judge of the Cook County Courts entered an order extending the postponement of most cases through May 18, 2020.[24]
 
Updated: March 18, 2020
 
The Illinois Supreme Court ordered that all Illinois courts must establish and periodically update temporary procedures to minimize the impact of the coronavirus.[25] The Illinois Supreme Court has compiled its response and the responses of the various state appellate courts.[26] Cook County courts have followed suit. Following Chief Judge Timothy C. Evan’s General Administrative order providing emergency measures,[27] the Law Division issued an order specific to its operations.[28]
 
[2] IN RE: Coronavirus COVID-19 Public Emergency Order Concerning Face Masks/Coverings in Public Areas of Courthouses (May 27, 2020), available at https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/USFEDCOURTS/2020/05/28/file_attachments/1460850/FaceCoveringOrder.pdf.
[3] Fourth Amended General Order, Order 20-0012 (May 26, 2020), available at  https://www.ilnd.uscourts.gov/_assets/_documents/New%20AMENDED%20GENERAL%20ORDER%2020-0012.pdf.
[4] Third Amended General Order, Order 20-0012 (Apr. 24, 2020), available at https://www.ilnd.uscourts.gov/_assets/_documents/AMENDED%20GENERAL%20ORDER%2020-0012.pdf.
[5] IN RE: CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 PUBLIC EMERGENCY, Order 20-0012 (Mar. 17, 2020), available at https://www.ilnd.uscourts.gov/_assets/_documents/AMENDED%20GENERAL%20ORDER%2020-0012.pdf.
[6] IN RE: CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 PUBLIC EMERGENCY CLERK’S OFFICE OPERATIONS, Order 20-0014 (Mar. 20, 2020), available at https://www.ilnd.uscourts.gov/_assets/_documents/Coronavirus%2020-0014%20March%2020.pdf.
[7] Order Regarding COVID-19 (Aug. 3, 2020), available at http://www.ca7.uscourts.gov/news/COVID-19_order_through2020_Dec31.pdf.
[8] Order Regarding Paper Copy Requirements (Jun. 23, 2020), available at http://www.ca7.uscourts.gov/news/Covid-19-vacate-papercopy_order.pdf.
[9] Id.
[10] Order Regarding Paper Copy Requirements, Order 20_003 (Mar. 31, 2020), available at http://www.ca7.uscourts.gov/news/Papercopyorder3-31-20_003.pdf.
[11] ORDER REGARDING COVID-19, (Mar. 18, 2020), available at http://www.ca7.uscourts.gov/news/COVID-19_COOP_Order.pdf.
[12] News and Announcements, available at http://www.ca7.uscourts.gov/news/news7.htm (last visited March 26, 2020).
[13] USPTO Launches COVID-19 Response Resource Center (Jun. 3, 2020), available at https://www.uspto.gov/about-us/news-updates/uspto-launches-covid-19-response-resource-center.
[14] USPTO Grants Further Relief for Certain Trademark-related Fees and Deadlines (May 27, 2020), available at https://www.uspto.gov/about-us/news-updates/uspto-grants-further-relief-certain-trademark-related-fees-and-deadlines.
[15] Notice of Waiver of Trademark-Related Timing Deadlines under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, (Mar. 31, 2020), available at https://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/documents/TM-Notice-CARES-Act.pdf?utm_campaign=subscriptioncenter&utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=.
[16] Relief Available to Patent and Trademark Applicants, Patentees and Trademark Owners Affected by the Coronavirus Outbreak, (Mar. 16, 2020), available at https://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/documents/coronavirus_relief_ognotice_03162020.pdf.
[17] Waiver of Original Handwritten Signature Requirement Due to the COVID-19 Outbreak, Dkt. No.: PTO-P-2020-0018 (Mar. 19, 2020), available at https://www.uspto.gov/about-us/news-updates/uspto-waives-original-handwritten-signature-requirement.
[18] Public Notice Regarding Timing Provisions involving Certain Registration Claims and Notices of Termination for Persons Affected by COVID-19, Issue No. 810 (Mar. 31, 2020), available at https://www.copyright.gov/coronavirus/.
[19] Copyright Office Continues Services, Issue No. 806 (Mar. 17, 2020), available at https://www.copyright.gov/newsnet/2020/806.html; Registration Special Handing Arrangements, Issue No. 807 (Mar. 18, 2020), available at https://www.copyright.gov/newsnet/2020/807.html
[20] Electronic Refusal Letters and Decisions in Requests for Reconsideration, Issue No. 809 (Mar. 20, 2020), available at https://www.copyright.gov/newsnet/2020/809.html.
[21] Copyright Office Updated Fee Schedule Takes Effect Today, Issue No. 808 (Mar. 20, 2020), available at https://www.copyright.gov/newsnet/2020/808.html.
[22] Covid-19 Update: WIPO’s IP Services (Mar. 20, 2020), available at https://www.wipo.int/portal/en/news/2020/article_0015.html; all up-to-date WIPO announcements can be found online at https://www.wipo.int/portal/en/news/.
[24] Court operations and the coronavirus (Mar. 30, 2020), available at http://www.cookcountycourt.org/HOME/INFORMATIONREGARDINGCORONAVIRUS.aspx.
[25] In re: Illinois Courts Response to COVID-19 Emergency, M.R. 30370 (Mar. 17, 2020), available at  https://courts.illinois.gov/SupremeCourt/Announce/2020/031720-3.pdf.
[26] COVID-19 Information and Updates, available at http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/Administrative/covid-19.asp.
[27] COVID-19 EMERGENCY MEASURES, General Administrative Order 2020-01 (Mar. 13, 2020), available at http://www.cookcountycourt.org/Portals/0/Chief%20Judge/General%20Administrative%20Orders/GAO%202020-01.pdf?ver=2020-03-16-163631-480.
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