PublishedOctober 1, 2013

What Does the Shutdown Mean for Patents?

Today, the news is being dominated by the partial shutdown of the U.S. government. Because we focus on patents, we wanted to let readers know what’s happening to the patent world during the shutdown.

The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office will stay open. According to a public announcement on its website, the PTO has a reserve fund from fee collections that it can use to continue to operate for about four more weeks. PTO employees will be paid as normal and business will continue as usual during that time.

If the shutdown continues longer than that, most PTO employees (including patent and trademark examiners) would be furloughed. But because there are statutory filing deadlines that could cost someone a patent or a trademark, all the public filing and payment systems will stay up.

Federal courts will also stay open. The federal courts have a reserve of about two weeks. Some civil cases (like patent cases) might see their schedules moved around, but the filing systems will stay up and judges and clerks will still be working.

The U.S. International Trade Commission, however, is putting all investigations on hold during the shutdown. All deadlines will be extended by the length of the shutdown, and all hearings and conferences will be postponed. I would link to the announcement by the ITC, but the ITC has put this notice up on the website:

And last, but not least, Congressional staffers are affected by the shutdown as well. Some staffers have been declared “non-essential” and furloughed. That means that patent reform is probably stalled for the time being. Between the shutdown dominating the discussion and reduced staffing, it’s hard to see much progress being made in the near future.

We’ll update this post if we learn anything else.

Matt Levy

Previously, Matt was patent counsel at the Computer & Communications Industry Association

More Posts

Congress Can Find Common Ground on Transparency

Postmortems from the November 8th elections are in full swing with pundits and operatives making bold claims about what the results mean for Democrats, Republicans, and the country. The dust still has...

Federal Circuit Temporarily Pauses Judge Connolly’s Disclosure Orders In Delaware

In its order on a mandamus request filed by MAVEXAR-linked entity Nimitz Technologies LLC, the Federal Circuit has temporarily paused Judge Connolly's order that entities in his court disclose details...

With frivolous NPE patent suits clogging courts, counsel’s diligence and ethics suffer

U.S. patent litigation is big business. Billion-dollar judgments, readily available litigation financing, and favorable venues and lax filing standards mean between three and four thousand suits are f...

Subscribe to Patent Progress

No spam. Unsubscribe anytime.