South Africa in lockdown - Message to our Clients and Colleagues
Dear valued Clients and Colleagues,
SOUTH AFRICA IN LOCKDOWN AT LEAST FROM 27 MARCH TO 16 APRIL 2020
South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, announced on Monday 23 March 2020, that the country will be in lockdown for 21 days (as presently advised) as from midnight on Thursday 26 March 2020, to reduce the infection rate of COVID-19 in South Africa.
KISCH IP REMAINS OPEN AND OPERATIONAL
We are pleased to announce that we have achieved the objectives of our COVID-19 contingency and business continuity plan and that we are already working from home on a full-time basis. Our business is thus fully operational and we are open for business, ready to receive your instructions.
CLOSING OF COMPANIES AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY COMMISSION (‘CIPC’) – DIES NON (25 MARCH TO 30 APRIL 2020)
We have been advised that the CIPC will be closed for all actions pertaining to the Patents Act (1978), the Trade Marks Act (1993), the Designs Act (1993), the Registration of Copyright in Cinematograph Film Act (1977), and the Copyright Act (1978) during the period 25 March to 30 April 2020 and that these days will be declared dies non for purposes of these Acts.
Responses to official communications from CIPC, documents relating to extensions of any time periods; and documents relating to legal proceedings that fall due during such dies non period, are hereby extended and will now fall due on 4 May 2020.
We request that you notify us of any priority, renewal or other deadlines falling due during this period, so that we may ensure that these are filed on the first available date after the dies non, i.e. 4 May 2020.
We have been assured by the CIPC that there will be no loss of rights as a result of the above closure. We are constantly monitoring the situation and will provide updates from time to time.
HANDLING OF INSTRUCTIONS AND APPLICATIONS DURING THIS PERIOD
Our respective specialist teams are ready to receive your instructions for immediate attention. We are also in a position to receive instructions to file applications and to process the same up to the final step before filing, so that these could be filed at CIPC on 1 May 2020.
COURTS IN PARTIAL LOCKDOWN
During the period 27 March to 16 April, the courts will be in partial lockdown. The courts will only be available for urgent matters, as well as for a number of other specified functions not relevant to the IP field. This is a good opportunity to prepare for when the courts open again. We are on standby to assist you with urgent court applications in cases where urgency is justified.
ELECTRONIC AND DIGITAL EXECUTION OF DOCUMENTS
We have already implemented a variety of steps included in our plan, to ensure business continuity and risk management, particularly in the area of supporting documents in the execution of instructions. With postal and courier systems around the world being severely affected by the fast-spreading COVID-19 pandemic, over 90% of international flights are no longer taking place.
Some clients are unable to access their offices to prepare, execute and send documents. For others, signed documents are able to be produced and .pdf copies e-mailed to us, but it is becoming increasingly challenging, if not impossible, to have any documents notarized. With many embassies closed indefinitely globally, any form of legalisation to consulate level is not currently possible. As it is, many registries have closed for a month and building access is restricted. Where registries have closed, deadlines are being moved to a specific date in the future. In addition, Renewals Offices have closed and are working remotely while unable to access a Registry. However, rest assured, we will continue to work with our clients and counterparts, assess each matter, case by case, country by country and will take all steps available to us to ensure that clients’ intellectual property rights are maintained during this difficult time.
In light of traditional methods of executing documents being unavailable, “electronic” or “digital execution” of documents is likely to be increasingly used in the coming months. Digital copies of documents are indispensable to enable colleagues to work remotely, and we request that you do not send any document by courier or post until further notice. Instead, please email these to us. Similarly, we will not be sending original documents by post or courier unless this is unavoidable and electronic copies of all original documents will be sent, with the originals to follow once the global health situation has normalized and normal courier and postal operations have resumed.
For now, we will accept all documents electronically and no original documents are necessary except where this is a specific requirement in terms of any local legislation or regulation. As such, we ask that all documents that you have already transmitted by courier or post be re-transmitted digitally by email to us, if you have such digital copies. If you do not have digital copies of documents already transmitted, please let us know immediately and we will advise how best we can address this.
Electronic signatures are a valid means of executing a document, including simple contracts and deeds, provided that:
- the individual signing the document intends to authenticate the document; and
- any formalities relating to the execution of the document are satisfied.
Also, as the worldwide postal and courier systems remain severely disrupted and while we continue to work remotely, we request that you email us a scanned (pdf) copy of all certificates, receipts, responses, invoices, etc. and keep the originals safe and secure until such time as the post and courier systems are back to normal and we are back in office.
OUR COMMITMENT TO YOU
Ultimately, while the coronavirus pandemic is an extraordinary and unprecedented challenge, we believe it is a call for all of us to put forth greater effort and demonstrate a greater commitment toward the good of the whole. We at KISCH IP are striving to do that while continuing to conduct our high standard of business and collectively emerge stronger once this is behind us. We believe that the IP law industry will navigate this crisis and emerge well-positioned for the future.
As always, please let us know if we can be of any assistance to you.
Please keep safe during this precarious time.
With much thanks and understanding.