So the US government has partially shut down for the first time in seventeen years, in a spate of recent events regarding the Affordable Care Act. Several government funded organizations have had to cease operations because of lack of funds. These are hard times indeed for the myriad government employees who have been furloughed in the wake of the shutdown. However, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has confirmed its decision to function normally using reserve funds from prior fee collections.
The reserve fund shall last for another four weeks, after which a majority of USPTO workers will have to be furloughed. Even then, USPTO shall function with a skeletal staff and accept new patent filings and patent maintenance payments.
In the case of Federal Courts, Federal courts shall be up and running off reserve funds. Parties are still allowed to make electronic filing. However, the patent litigation cases might witness some rescheduling. The US Supreme Court continues to operate as normal.
The US International Trade Commission is putting all investigations on hold during the shutdown. All near-term filing deadlines, for example, deadlines to file requests for review of preliminary rulings et cetera, shall be extended by the length of the shutdown and all hearings shall be postponed.
Author, Leo Paul Johnson, is a patent engineer at IP ASTRA