top of page

COVID-19 affected IP Office backlogs

COVID-19 shutdowns and other factors have affected the Copyright, Patent, and Trademark Office review times.


Average pendency for review of a utility patent application has increased in the last 2 years from 16 months to 19.5 months. The news blog,, has a nice graph of the wait times.

If your invention is related to climate change or COVID-19, there are ways to speed up the process.


Average pendency for review of a trademark application has increased in the last 2 years from 3 months to 9.5 months.

A 3.5 month increase on the patent side is not as bad as the trademark, which has witnessed a 6.5 month increase.

These review times are only an average, many applications that have non-USA applicant's and marijuana products see longer review times, up to 12 months.

There are ways to speed up the process if a trademark relates to COVID-19,litigation, or or a a previous registration or application. The co-dependency rule hurts small businesses as it means businesses that file large volumes of trademark applications or have previous application can get reviewed before small businesses. If you need to speed up your application, the law firm I work at is experienced with such petitions.


Review times a the Copyright Office depend on type of work and filing. Paper filings take longer than digital filings. Works filed all digitally take an average of 2 months, works filed half-and-half take an average of 12 months, and works filed all by mail take an average of 10 months.

I filed a half-and-half application at the start of COVID-19 (so filed a digital application but mailed in a physical book) and it took well over 12 months and I ended up petitioning my Senator to follow-up with the application. About 18% of all Copyright applications are half-and-half. Many errors were caused when the Office closed during Lockdown with no plan in place on how to manage the mail. Not all applications can be filed with a digital application because of how Copyright law is written.

If we look just at half-and-half applications, the Copyright Office is still dealing with the fallout of Lockdown and has a considerable backlog. However, if we look at digital filings, the Copyright Office is doing well.


In my opinion, the US's Trademark office has fallen the most behind since COVID-19 started but the Copyright Office was the worst prepared.

I'm hopeful in the future of any pandemic lockdowns, the Copyright Office is more prepared but overall, the shirt occurred from attorneys. I don't suggest half-and-half filings as much to clients knowing that it takes considerably longer. Real progress would be if the Copyright Office could switch to an almost all digital process and laws requiring physical deposits change with the new post-pandemic world.

Up north, Canada Trademark Office has increased their wait time as well. This appears to have three factors: not being prepared for work for home, long-standing IT problems, and an increase in applications. The US Trademark Office also witnessed problems with IT and an increase in applications. Both Canada and USA are struggling to fix these backlogs and COVID-19 worsened the already present issues. Right now, Canada is looking at 24 months.

Across the pond, the UK Trademark Office eliminated their entire backlog and has a shorter wait time than pre-COVID-19. They got lucky, COVID-19 hit after the Brexit trademark rules were in place instead of having to manage the two at the same time. Right now, UK is averaging 2 weeks for first review.

Even with the Queen's Platinum Jubilee holiday week, UK Trademark Examiners were able to clear out the backlog. I would welcome British Examiners teaching their former colonies how to clear out a trademark backlog (and while they're at it, how to make a Jubilee pudding).


bottom of page