Update on the Government ShutdownJanuary 11, 2019

In December 2018, the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) reported it would stay open at least for a temporary time in the event of a government shutdown. Thus far, the USPTO closed only on December 24, 2018 (Christmas Eve), as a result of an executive order issued by President Trump. Christmas Eve fell on a Monday and would normally be a day in which the USPTO is open, as Christmas Eve is usually not considered a federal holiday. The USPTO posted on their website: “In the event that parts of the federal government experience a lapse of appropriated funding, the USPTO remains open for business as normal. This is possible because the agency has access to prior-year fee collections, which enables the USPTO to continue normal operations for a few weeks.” As of today, January 11, 2019, the USPTO remains open. The New York Times reported on Wednesday, January 9th that President Trump, “stormed out of a White House meeting with congressional leaders on Wednesday after Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would not fund a border wall even if he agreed to reopen the government, escalating a confrontation that has shuttered large portions of the government for 19 days and counting.” Without an end to the government shutdown in sight, and it nearing mid-January, it is unclear how long the USPTO can continue operations while the government is shut down.

In the event the USPTO closes as a result of the government shutdown, the USPTO has indicated a small staff will continue to work to accept new applications and maintain IT infrastructure, among other functions. Thus, it appears Applicants will still need to meet any and all applicable deadlines.

We will inform you of any further developments should the USPTO choose to publish any further information regarding any adjustments to the USPTO’s operating status.

Gregory “Lars” Gunnerson is a Patent Attorney in the Mechanical and Electrical Patent Practice Group at McKee, Voorhees & Sease, PLC. For additional information please visit www.ipmvs.com or contact Lars directly via email at gregory.gunnerson@ipmvs.com.

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