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31 August 2020
During the national state of alarm caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and its related health crisis management, measures were adopted affecting IP matters, including the suspension and official interruption of certain deadlines and judicial and administrative actions. Having overcome the exceptional state of alarm, the Spanish courts and administrative bodies have now resumed full activity.
On 22 May 2020, before the state of alarm ended, Royal Decree 537/2020 was published, which lifted the suspension of the above deadlines and judicial and administrative proceedings.
Despite the exceptional situation during the state of alarm, the commercial courts competent in IP matters tried to maintain as much of their activity as possible and have been notifying judgments and resolutions without affecting the measures taken in terms of deadlines.
Articles 8 and 10 of Royal Decree 537/2020 stated that, as of 4 June 2020, the suspension of the agreed procedural periods would have full effect and the suspension of the statutes of limitation and lapse of rights and actions would be lifted.
In addition, in anticipation of the end of the state of alarm, the Permanent Commission of the General Council of the Judiciary agreed to draw up a plan to restart judicial activity. The final version of the plan was approved on 16 June 2020.
The aims of this plan included preventing the Administration of Justice from breaking down and providing judges and magistrates with a reliable scenario for restoring normal operations, with mechanisms in place to manage increased workloads.
The general measures to be applied under the plan included:
The measures aimed at the commercial field (competent in IP matters) included the proposal to activate Madrid Commercial Court No 15 and No 16 and Barcelona Commercial Court No 12. In fact, these courts will start functioning as of 30 September 2020.
In addition, in Spain this year, on the basis of Royal Decree-Law 16/2020 of 28 April 2020, the period between 11 August 2020 and 31 August 2020, with the exception of Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, has counted as working days for certain activities and morning and afternoon working sessions were established in all of the judicial bodies.
Finally, on 1 September 2020, an action plan will come into force which was approved by the government on 7 July 2020, in order to alleviate the accumulation of lawsuits as a result of the health crisis. This includes reinforcing the commercial courts with an increase in the number of judges and Administration of Justice staff.
Article 9 of Royal Decree-Law 16/2020 established that, as of 1 June 2020 the calculation of administrative periods that had been suspended would be resumed or the calculation of said periods would be restarted if this had been set out by law during the state of alarm or its extensions.
As regards intellectual property, the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (SPTO) published a note of clarification with a series of guidelines on how to calculate time limits in relation to SPTO proceedings, which are specified on its website.
On 3 June 2020 the SPTO director issued a resolution approving, among other things, a phased plan for SPTO employees to return to work.
For further information on this topic please contact Beatriz Bejarano at Grau & Angulo by telephone (+34 93 202 34 56) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). The Grau & Angulo website can be accessed at www.ga-ip.com.
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