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Patent Office to Assess Need For Further Filing Extensions

May 20, 2020, 10:24 PM

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will assess the possibility of delaying filing deadlines again to accommodate those impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, agency director Andrei Iancu said.

‘We’ll see if there’s a need for further extensions, " Iancu said in an online session Wednesday to provide coronavirus-related updates on the agency’s operations. “We don’t know that yet.”

Last month, the patent office extended filings that were due between March 27 and May 31 to June 1. The extension followed its announcement in March to delay a set of deadlines on filings, including notices of appeal and requests for hearing.

The agency’s transition to remote work “has been relatively seamless” as more than half of its employees were already working from home before the pandemic. he said during the webinar, hosted by Société de Chimie Industrielle, an academic association.

Pre-pandemic, about 55% of PTO employees were teleworking full-time, with roughly another 30% working from home one or more days a week, he said.

“We are a model for how to do it well,” he said.

The patent office had also sought public feedback on artificial intelligence policy, including whether the law should be changed so that a machine can be declared an inventor, Iancu said

Iancu’s discussion on the topic follows the agency’s April decision that patent law bars listing artificial intelligence as an inventor on a patent.

The PTO has received “hundreds” of responses regarding AI and inventorship, Iancu said. The responses will be used for a future report, he said.

“We’ll synthesize all those and issue a report as well,” Iancu said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ian Lopez in Washington at ilopez@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Roger Yu at ryu@bloomberglaw.com, Keith Perine at kperine@bloomberglaw.com