United States Patent and Trademark Office Using Reserve Funds to Stay Open for the Time Being 

We’ve already talked about how the Government Shutdown is going to affect the Federal Communications Commission.  Of course, the Commission isn’t actually the center of the universe (it sometimes just seems that way).  While most of our work is focused on the FCC, we also interact with other agencies and offices of the federal government on our clients’ behalf from time to time. 

With that in mind, we’ll update you as we receive important information on the status of their operations during the shutdown. 

Today:  the United States Patent and Trademark Office (hint:  it’s open for business…for now).

A visitor to the USPTO site is immediately confronted with a message titled: "USPTO’s Operation Status" which reads: 

During the general government shutdown that began October 1, 2013, the United States Patent and Trademark Office will remain open, using prior year reserve fee collections to operate as usual for approximately four weeks. We continue to assess our fee collections compared to our operating requirements to determine how long we will be able to operate in this capacity during a general government shutdown. We will provide an update as more definitive information becomes available.

Should we exhaust these reserve funds before the general government shutdown comes to an end, USPTO would shut down at that time, although a very small staff would continue to work to accept new applications and maintain IT infrastructure, among other functions. (Should it become necessary for USPTO to shut down, details of the agency’s plan for an orderly shutdown are available on page 78 of the United States Department of Commerce’s shutdown plan, available here.)

Any new or updated public information related to USPTO operations during the government shutdown will be placed on this page.

What does this mean for you?  Well, you can currently file applications at the USPTO, but we don’t know how long that will last.  Given that Patent and Trademark applications and registrations largely depend on the priority in which they are filed, our recommendation is that you look into filing any applications you’ve been sitting on — whether original filings or, especially, those seeking to maintain a current registration — as soon as possible.   The shutdown may still eventually affect the processing your application or maintenance filing, but at least you’ve secure your place in line or are sure to be ahead of any deadline (as opposed to having to scramble to get something on file when if the government starts operating again just before or even after an applicable deadline).