In light of recent news events, inventors across the country find themselves asking, understandably, just how a government shutdown will affect the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. On the one hand, it is a government office. However, as we’ve already seen with in the course of the current government shutdown, some public departments are at least partially funded in ways that exempt them from a total shutdown, such as the postal service.
First, the good news. It appears that the USPTO is very good at putting aside money for “a rainy day”. Thanks to the prior years reserve of fee collections, they have enough money to continue functioning as normal for approximately four weeks. Additionally, they vow to continue comparing their current fee collections with operating expenses in order to determine how much longer they will be able to remain functioning past the initial four week cushion.
Next is the not-so-good news. Those of you requesting paper files may find yourselves with nothing but empty hands. Unfortunately, those files are kept in a federal facility that’s owned and operated by the General Services Administration (GSA). And, as you’ve probably guessed by now, they’re closed.
Now for the bad news. Once the USPTO runs out of the funds provided by fee collections, it will have no choice but to close its doors. However, even in this black cloud there’s a silver lining. A very small staff will remain in order to prevent the loss of valuable intellectual property. Some functions of the USPTO that are considered “necessary” include accepting new applications (yay!), maintaining IT infrastructure, and any other processes needed to preserve patent rights and avoid the disclosure of any information that could actually be detrimental to national security.
Although we may not be able to visit our favorite national monuments, and our mailboxes may be absent of anything from the IRS, we can certainly be sure that our U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is truly doing everything that they can to provide all that they are able. So, even during a government shutdown, inventors have every reason to remain hard at work, bringing into reality the ideas that will shape our future, something no government can shut down.
Contact us, your go-to source for navigating the patent process, for the latest USPTO news that affects you.