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

Newly Released GAO Report Shows Previous Leadership’s Improper Influence on PTAB and Need for Improved Transparency  

Many in the IP world suspected improper influence at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) under former Director Andrew Iancu, previously a partner at a firm with a long history of representing...

In WDTX, the Numbers Tell the Story

If there was ever any doubt that Judge Alan Albright’s courtroom in Waco, Texas was a favorable venue for patent trolls, we can now put that notion to rest. The proof is in the numbers.  For...

State Attorneys General Raise Concerns About Threats Posed by Litigation Funding

In November, I wrote about the opportunity for Congress to find common ground on transparency issues, including bringing greater transparency to the third-party litigation funding (TPLF) industry. TPL...

Subscribe to Patent Progress

No spam. Unsubscribe anytime.