In the interest of bringing “important and possibly life-saving treatments” relating to the COVID-19 pandemic to consumers with increased efficiency, the United States Patent & Trademark Office announced on June 15, 2020 a new program that will speed up initial examination of certain trademark applications. The USPTO estimates that the examination process for qualifying applications will be expedited by approximately two months.
Applications eligible for priority are those related to the identification of medical products and services that are intended to help prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure COVID-19, which are either subject to approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or qualify as medical research for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19.
Among the qualifying products are ventilators, diagnostic tests, and personal protective equipment such as face masks (including both medical grade masks and masks for use by the general public for “source control”, meaning, to contain the wearer’s respiratory secretions; masks for use for construction applications would not qualify), gowns and gloves. Also included may be such things as investigational new drug applications, investigational device exemptions, new drug applications, biologics license applications, premarket approvals, or emergency use authorizations.
This suspension of the usual rules requiring trademark applications to be reviewed in the order received by the USPTO results from the Office’s recognition of the extraordinary situation of the COVID-19 outbreak. Federal regulations permit the director of the USPTO to issue such an order in extraordinary situations.
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