IP Law News

Patent Office Would Operate During Partial Shutdown—For a While

Dec. 18, 2018, 4:31 PM

The Patent and Trademark Office wouldn’t immediately halt operations and would keep processing applications in a partial government shutdown.

The agency would tap into prior year fee collections, allowing it to continue to operate for a few weeks, according to a Department of Commerce plan released in July. A PTO spokesman declined to comment.

Legal practitioners who do business at the PTO and intellectual property holders are closely watching whether the agency’s services would be disrupted in wake of a threatened partial shutdown sparked by a disagreement between President Donald Trump and Democrats over Trump’s demand for a border wall. It’s unclear how long the PTO could maintain current operations during such a shutdown.

The PTO stayed open and carried out services during the brief government shutdown in January. Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross had asked PTO employees in a Jan. 19 email to return to work as usual, until further notice.

The PTO would have to stop operations if it exhausted funds before the shutdown ended, Joe Matal, who was then acting as agency director, told employees in a separate email Jan. 19. A handful of staff would be required to continue some functions, including accepting new applications and maintaining IT systems, Matal said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Malathi Nayak in Washington at mnayak@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bloomberglaw.com

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