The CARES Act has major implications for small businesses and nonprofits, both in terms of extended trademark and copyright deadlines and as a source of direct financial assistance to help mitigate the economic effects of COVID-19.
Under the CARES Act, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has extended the time to file certain trademark-related documents and fees which otherwise would have been due on or after March 27, 2020. Specifically, the due date for any trademark renewals, office action responses, statements of use, notices of opposition (or extensions of time to oppose) and priority claims due between March 27, 2020 and April 30, 2020 will be extended 30 days from the initial due date, provided the filing is accompanied by a statement that the delay was due to the COVID-19 outbreak. In other situations where the COVID-19 outbreak has affected a filing before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, extensions or reopening of time can be made. The USPTO is otherwise open for the electronic filing of documents and fees, per usual.
Copyright Office Actions
The Copyright Office has also exercised its authority to temporarily adjust timing provisions in the Copyright Act under the CARES Act. Copyright owners may receive additional time to register a work in order to be eligible for certain remedies in infringement actions. Under the Copyright Act, statutory damages and attorney’s fees are generally available only if a work is registered before the infringement or within three months after first publication. The Copyright Office has extended the three-month window for applicants who can show that they were unable to comply due to the COVID-19 emergency. To qualify, an applicant must submit a statement certifying under penalty of perjury that they would have met the deadline but for the national emergency. These emergency modifications will be in effect for sixty days.
As a trademark or copyright owner, if you believe you have been affected by any of these filing disruptions due to the COVID-19 emergency, please contact Jeannette Carmadella at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we may help you maintain your valuable intellectual property rights during this time.
In addition, small businesses and nonprofit organizations impacted by COVID-19 should immediately review the new financial assistance programs provided for in the CARES Act to determine if they qualify. Detailed descriptions and comparisons of the programs can be found on the website of our INBLF colleague firm, Gammon & Grange. Time is of the essence as the programs have funding caps.
In brief, the two programs are as follows:
Economic Impact Disaster Loans (EIDL) and Grants: These loans of up to $2 M to pay qualified economic injury costs are administered directly by the SBA and applied for via the SBA website. Loan applicants can receive emergency grants – no repayment obligation – of up to $10,000 within 3 days. While the loans cannot be forgiven, they are low-interest with generous repayment terms and can be converted to a PPP loan, which is forgivable.
Payroll Protection Program (PPP): These loans of up to $10 M are administered by private SBA-approved lenders. While primarily intended to help pay payroll costs, the funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. They will be partially or fully forgiven if the business retains its employees.
Small businesses can apply for both EIDL and PPP and, if approved for both, decide which is more advantageous.