UPDATE Griffith Hack Response to COVID-19

24 March 2020

With the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic globally Griffith Hack has made the decision to move all our people to remote working, effective immediately. While we are taking this measure to help protect the health and well-being of our people, our clients and our communities, we don’t anticipate any changes to the services you receive. Griffith Hack has a comprehensive COVID-19 response plan and procedures in place, and we are committed to maintaining the high-quality services that you know and expect from us:

  • Our priority is to ensure the health and wellbeing of our employees and see to it that any operational changes will not impact client services. 
  • While working remotely our people will continue to provide you with the high-quality services that you know and expect. 
  • We have robust IT systems, which have been tested and can sustain a remote workforce.

  • You can still contact your usual firm contacts using the same phone numbers and same email address.

  • All client meetings and events will be held virtually.

  • Our team is monitoring advice from IP Australia, and other IP offices, and will advise of any changes that may impact you. A summary of the current status is included below.

The implementation of our remote working protocol is in addition to the following proactive steps we have already taken as part of our Covid-19 response plan:

  • We continue to monitor guidance and advice from relevant government bodies and their medical experts and update our business response plan and procedures as required.

  • We have activated our internal COVID-19 policies and procedures and will continue to monitor circumstances and update our policies and procedures accordingly and promptly.
  • We have had travel restrictions in place since mid-February and these are continuously updated in line with Government advice.

Current status of Australian Courts, IP Australia and IPONZ

  • As of yesterday (March 23), the Federal Court’s (Court) public-facing counters and face-to-face services have been closed until further notice; although in urgent circumstances face-to-face services may be provided after an initial telephone assessment via the following domestic number, 1300 720 980. This has effectively stalled operation of the Federal Court. Chief Justice J L B Allsop released a comprehensive ‘special measures’ response for the Court’s continued operation in light of COVID-19 which can be accessed here. They are working on protocols to resume trials electronically.
  • Both IP Australia and the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) are operating as usual but have indicated that if circumstances related to COVID-19 have affected or are affecting a business’s ability to respond by a deadline, an extension of time can be requested (in the normal way) and will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
  • IP Australia has also provided specific guidance in relation to Plant Breeder’s Rights (PBR) applicants. PBR examiners will not be conducting the examination of field trials for PBR purposes that involve domestic flights or overnight stays, until further notice. The Australian Cultivar Registration Authority (ACRA) is also closed for receiving plant specimens until further notice.
  • Requests to defer PBR actions may be made by applicants in the normal way, if a statement outlining how the COVID-19 outbreak interfered with original time frame is provided. You can stay up to date with both regulators via specific pages on their websites: IP Australia and IPONZ. We will however continue to monitor and communicate any relevant changes.

Further information

This is an unprecedented time and we would like to assure you of our preparedness and our commitment to minimising disruption to our services. Should you need more information or clarification on any of the above points, please don’t hesitate to contact me or Griffith Hack’s National Communications & Marketing Manager, Chris Hornby chris.hornby@griffithhack.com