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Author Topic: USPTO Shutdown Update  (Read 3761 times)

ex-aminer?

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USPTO Shutdown Update
« on: 01-20-19 at 01:05 am »

I just heard from a coworker that some bill or resolution was just passed that allows the USPTO to continue to operate with reserve funds and additionally, current money rolling in may be used to fund the reserve, at least during the shutdown.

I’m hoping and assuming this would retroactively fill the reserve with fees since the shutdown began.  If this is the case, the shutdown shouldn’t affect the USPTO.

I have a feeling the top brass anticipated this, since overtime has been available during the entire shutdown.

Im not exactly sure how our funding works, but I believe at the end of the year, Congress appropriates a certain amount for the next fiscal, which is always less than the collected fees.  With all the stopgap funding and constant looming shutdowns, it would be great if we could keep our own money without Congress touching it first.  Even if they didn’t want us to have a surplus it could just be “gifted” to them such as a certain set percentage of what we deem extra funds.

I have my fingers crossed this is legit news.  We will probably know for sure on Tuesday.

Anybody else hear anything?
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snapshot

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Re: USPTO Shutdown Update
« Reply #1 on: 01-20-19 at 03:02 am »

As previously mentioned, overtime wasn't shelved because it would have made no real difference in how long patents can stay open if it we're eliminated.  Eliminating OT wouldn't have bought the office even a full extra day.

As for a bill/resolution to keep the PTO open, I can't find anything on the House of Representatives or Senate sites about any specific PTO resolutions.  So I'm not buying that rumor.
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lazyexaminer

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Re: USPTO Shutdown Update
« Reply #2 on: 01-20-19 at 10:05 am »

I haven’t read 35 U.S.C 42 very closely and don’t have time to now...might they just try to interpret it in a way that hasn’t been done before?

ETA: probably not, seems unreasonable.
« Last Edit: 01-20-19 at 10:15 am by lazyexaminer »
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bluerogue

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Re: USPTO Shutdown Update
« Reply #3 on: 01-20-19 at 12:45 pm »

The latest news I've heard is that we're moving TM reserve fund money (~120M, can't remember exactly) for patents use to extend us a little longer.  That would give us an additional 2-ish weeks of operations.  After that, who knows.

I'd put the date around Feb 1.  I don't know if there's enough to get to Feb 15.  As to whether they'd shut us down in the middle of a biweek, it seems like it'd be a bad idea, but also, they may want to have as go as long as possible in case a deal is made in the middle of the biweek so who knows.

I don't buy the rumor that we can use current money rolling in. 

Edit: After reading 35 USC 42 (thanks lazyexaminer!) I don't know if the rumor that we're moving TM reserve fund money is allowed.  It seems to be explicitly prohibited.
« Last Edit: 01-20-19 at 12:55 pm by bluerogue »
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steelie

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Re: USPTO Shutdown Update
« Reply #4 on: 01-20-19 at 01:22 pm »

There's no need to shutdown, as they can declare us "essential", and we work without pay.
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snapshot

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Re: USPTO Shutdown Update
« Reply #5 on: 01-20-19 at 01:40 pm »

There's no need to shutdown, as they can declare us "essential", and we work without pay.

Good grief.  This will not happen.
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PatentExaminerNoob

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Re: USPTO Shutdown Update
« Reply #6 on: 01-20-19 at 01:47 pm »

There's no need to shutdown, as they can declare us "essential", and we work without pay.

 :'(
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two banks of four

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Re: USPTO Shutdown Update
« Reply #7 on: 01-20-19 at 02:56 pm »

There's no need to shutdown, as they can declare us "essential", and we work without pay.

Good grief.  This will not happen.

mostly agree, but the cynical side of me wonders what's the bet that the Examining Corps gets deemed non-essential (after all, 95%+ of issued patents are probably not worth the paper on which they are printed) but certain sections of PTAB (specifically those handling post-grant reviews) are deemed essential
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Mathilda

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Re: USPTO Shutdown Update
« Reply #8 on: 01-20-19 at 06:42 pm »

Examiners I know who are connected have said the PTO has money to last intil February 8. Not confirmed however
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ex-aminer?

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Re: USPTO Shutdown Update
« Reply #9 on: 01-20-19 at 10:08 pm »

35 USC section 42c:

(2) There is established in the Treasury a Patent and Trademark Fee Reserve Fund. If fee collections by the Patent and Trademark Office for a fiscal year exceed the amount appropriated to the Office for that fiscal year, fees collected in excess of the appropriated amount shall be deposited in the Patent and Trademark Fee Reserve Fund. To the extent and in the amounts provided in appropriations Acts, amounts in the Fund shall be made available until expended only for obligation and expenditure by the Office in accordance with paragraph

I think the idea is that if “the amount appropriated to the Office” is currently zero, because no funding resolution has passed, then all fees would go into the reserve fund.

We’ve also received emails saying we only have a “few weeks” of reserve left, so maybe the rationale above doesn’t follow.

Who knows

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lazyexaminer

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Re: USPTO Shutdown Update
« Reply #10 on: 01-20-19 at 11:30 pm »

The way I read that (and the reason I said it would be unreasonable above), is yes, if the appropriations amount is zero than all new money taken in above zero will go into the reserve fund. But amounts in the fund are only “made available” to the extent appropriated. So we would get the money but wouldn’t be allowed to spend it until an appropriations act says so.
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Robert K S

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Re: USPTO Shutdown Update
« Reply #11 on: 01-23-19 at 08:49 pm »

The best understanding I can glean from this thread is that even the examining corps doesn't know with certainty if or when they'll be furloughed (or enslaved).
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snapshot

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Re: USPTO Shutdown Update
« Reply #12 on: 01-23-19 at 09:37 pm »

The best understanding I can glean from this thread is that even the examining corps doesn't know with certainty if or when they'll be furloughed (or enslaved).

Pretty accurate.

Best guess appears to be that the money runs out at the end of next week, but apparently upper management is trying to extend that by finding solutions and ways to stretch money to make sure we can stay open longer.

There has been no talk at the office of being enslaved, though.  The only speculation about that appears to be isolated to this thread.
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Robert K S

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Re: USPTO Shutdown Update
« Reply #13 on: 01-23-19 at 10:18 pm »

Yeah.  Even if you assume that intellectual property is "property" for the sake of the essential personnel criteria it's pretty tough to make the argument that not having an examining corps or PTAB poses a danger to vested patent rights.

Because I don't see an endgame to this shutdown absent a political turnover on one side or the other, or a mass uprising of popular sentiment that clearly threatens one (which I think unlikely no matter how bad it gets because the U.S. political-cultural divide now goes way beyond economics), I think we're in for a long haul, and everybody should be constructing a solid Plan B.
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snapshot

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Re: USPTO Shutdown Update
« Reply #14 on: 01-24-19 at 08:14 pm »

Just got a funding update.

Patents has money to fund operations until "at least the second week in February".  I'm not sure if this means through February 9 or February 16.

Trademarks has money to fund operations until "at least mid-April 2019".

They are continuing to evaluate options to stretch the available money.
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