As you are most likely aware, the United States government was shutdown for a total of 35 days, the longest shutdown in US history. The shutdown led to 380,000 federal workers being furloughed, and an additional 420,000 workers were required to work without any known payment dates during this period, forcing many to find other paid work or protest against the extended period of the deadlock. However, the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) stayed open during this time. The USPTO continued to pay its employees because it had access to prior-year fee collections, and continued normal operations for the duration of the government shutdown.

Immediately prior to the end of the shutdown, the USPTO stated they would have to cease operations in the second week of February if the shutdown were to continue. Thankfully, the shutdown officially ended on Friday, January 25, 2019. However, it does not appear as if the USPTO is quite out of the woods yet. President Trump vowed, “If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on Feb. 15th again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and Constitution of the United States to address this emergency”.

It is unclear if the USPTO will be able to get Congress to approve access to another year’s worth of funding in this interim three-week period and how much money they have left from their prior-year fee collections. It is entirely possible the operation of the USPTO for the 2019 calendar year is not a high priority for influential members of Congress at the moment. Thus, the USPTO could be negatively impacted if another government shutdown were to occur.

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