U.S.P.T.O. Remains Open

January 22, 2018
Post by Kirk M. Hartung

Despite the shutdown of a significant portion of the federal government, the United States Patent and Trademark Office will remain open, at least for the short term.This government agency is self-funded through user fees, and therefore will continue business as usual for the next two weeks. If the government shutdown continues into February, the PTO status may change.

Below is an email from January 19, 2018 from the Acting Director of the USPTO to the employees, explaining the current plan:


Dear Colleagues,

As you learned from Secretary Ross’s announcement earlier today, the USPTO will remain open and running as normal if the federal government shuts down tonight. For tomorrow, and for the near future, it will be business as usual within the USPTO.

Because the USPTO maintains sufficient carryover funding from prior fiscal years, our agency has the ability to stay open for business for a few weeks using these available reserves. During that time we would continue to conduct our duties and serve our nation by processing the patent and trademark applications that drive our country’s innovative economy. Should we exhaust these funds before a government shutdown comes to an end, the USPTO would have to 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.

We continue to assess our fee collections compared to our operating requirements to determine how long we should be able to operate during a government shutdown; we will update you as more definitive information becomes available.

I realize you likely have more questions. As new information becomes available, we will inform you promptly and thoroughly. Thank you for your hard work and the continuing dedication you demonstrate to the American people.


Joe Matal
Performing the Functions and Duties of the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO



This post was submitted by Kirk Hartung, an Intellectual Property Attorney in the Mechanical Patent Practice Group at McKee, Voorhees & Sease, PLC. For additional information please visit or contact Kirk directly via email at


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