Status Update of US Patent Law Practice during the Federal Government Shutdown

Tuesday 26th November 2013

A general shutdown of the US Government began on October 1, 2013 as the fight over ‘Obamacare’ (the Affordable Care Act) intensifies. During this time many government funded organisations have had their funding terminated and have had to cease operations.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued a statement confirming it is to remain open during the shutdown, using prior year reserve fee collections to operate as usual for approximately four weeks. In the event the shutdown continues for longer than four weeks, the USPTO has indicated it will shut down at that time, “…although a very small staff would continue to work to accept new applications and maintain IT infrastructure, among other functions.” The office has also begun to implement cost saving measures by cancelling the 18th Annual Independent Inventor Conference.

The US Federal Courts will continue to operate normally on cash reserves until approximately the middle of October. The Judiciary has announced that on or around the 15th of October,  it will reassess its situation and provide further guidance. The US Supreme Court began a new term on Monday 7th October, and continues to operate as normal.

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is largely closed. During the lapse period, FDA activities related to medical products will be limited to the following: (1) emergency work involving the safety of human life or the protection of property; (2) criminal law enforcement works; and (3) activities funded by carryover user fee balances. The FDA is currently not accepting any new regulatory submissions for FY2014 that require a fee payment.

If you have any questions or concerns during this period, please do not hesitate to contact us.
This article was written with assistance from Emma Senior.

This article is intended to summarise potentially complicated legal issues, and is not intended to be a substitute for individual legal advice. Please contact a Baldwins attorney or other IP professional before acting on any information contained in this publication.

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