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Will the government shutdown affect my patent and trademark applications?

John Gilberston \ January 09, 2019

With the federal government shutdown extending into its third week, you may be wondering how it will impact your patent or trademark applications.  The good news is that despite the shutdown, the USPTO is still open for business as usual for now. Because the agency can still access fees collected prior to the shutdown, it will be able to continue normal operations for a few weeks.  If those funds are exhausted, the office will close, but will still retain a skeleton crew to accept new applications and maintain technology systems.

There is no word yet on exactly how long the office will be able to remain open during the shutdown.  The office’s electronic filing systems, however, will remain up and running, so parties will be able to continue their business with the USPTO even if the office is closed.  This means that deadlines can still be met to keep applications, patents, and other registrations alive and well.

For those who are currently enforcing their intellectual property rights in court, the Federal judiciary is still open.  However, it only has enough money left over from fees and other sources to last through January 11. After that, the impact is uncertain.  Some courts suspend cases, others conduct business as usual for a time. It’s a judge-by-judge, court-by-court determination.

The bottom line?  Unless the shutdown drags on for several more weeks or months, you will likely see little to no impact on your patent and trademark applications.  Stay proactive during this time, and do not assume that the patent office will be lenient with respect to deadlines that took place during the shutdown.  

We will be monitoring the situation and will keep you up to date on any changes the shutdown may cause.  

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