The Patent and Trademark Office is unlikely to be closed if a government shutdown takes place tonight. The Office has a great deal of control over its own budget, and it maintains a reserve fund of money for certain situations which will keep it up and running should the rest of the government be furloughed or closed. The Office can run for about a month before the funds are exhausted, which should provide enough time for Congress to come to a decision. And even then, the Office should still be able to accept filings in new and continuing patent and trademark applications. The Office reports:
In the event of a general government shutdown on October 1, 2013, the United States Patent and Trademark Office will remain open, using prior year reserve fee collections to operate as usual for approximately four weeks. We continue to assess our fee collections compared to our operating requirements to determine how long we will be able to operate in this capacity during a general government shutdown. We will provide an update as more definitive information becomes available.
Should we exhaust these reserve funds before a general government shutdown comes to an end, USPTO would 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. (Should it become necessary for USPTO to shut down, details of the agency’s plan for an orderly shutdown are available on page 78 of the United States Department of Commerce’s shutdown plan, available here.)
Any new or updated public information related to USPTO operations during a potential government shutdown will be placed on this page.