If the House and Senate cannot resolve their impasse regarding Obamacare, a nearly inevitable government shutdown faces the United States Patent Trademark Office (USPTO). According to the USPTO, in the event of a government shutdown tomorrow (October 1, 2013) it will continue to operate for approximately four (4) weeks using prior year fee reserves. This will allow the 11,789 employees of the USPTO to stay on the job.
After four weeks the USPTO would shut down but maintain a skeleton staff simply to accept new patent and trademark filings and maintain the computer systems. There would be no patent or trademark examination, issuance or ex parte appeal work done.
The USPTO has carved out exceptions for contested cases before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB). A detailed (87 page) roadmap to the USPTO shutdown is available (published Sept. 27, 2013).
We are certainly hopeful this will not occur and take all steps to preserve the intellectual property rights of our clients despite the political tension in Washington, D.C.