Will this Absurd Government Shutdown Affect Your Trademarks?

The Looming Government Shutdown And It’s Potential Impact On Trademarks

UPDATE: The government averted a shutdown this time, but stay tuned in November as we start to talk about this topic all over again…

As we push towards a government shutdown at midnight tonight in November, you may be wondering how a potential shutdown will impact your trademark application, registration, and trademarks in general.

For the time being, it won't.

That's because the USPTO is self-funded by it's own fee revenue. So everytime a trademark application is filed, or an extension is requested, or a statement of use is filed, or someone renews their trademark, they must pay fees to the USPTO. And these fees are used to pay for operating expenses at the USPTO.

According to a submission to Congress earlier this year, the USPTO reported that is currently has $1.037 billion in operating reserves, which is roughly one-third of it's annual budget. This means that the USPTO can continue to operate for around 4 months (should a shutdown last that long, God help us).

But the USPTO is Self-Funded…

You may be wondering, yeah, but the USPTO is self-funded, so doesn't that mean it could continue to operate in perpetuity?

Well, yes and no. The USPTO is still subject to appropriations from Congress. So basically, the USPTO funds its budget through its fee revenue, and then Congress gives that money right back to the USPTO. But if Speaker McCarthy and the 21 rogue members of Congress who seemingly want to burn down the government can't get their act together to pass an appropriations bill, then that can't happen.

So how long can the USPTO stay open?

The bottom-line is that the USPTO will stay open for at least the next 4 months. As of right now, the longest shutdown ever was 35 days in 2018-2019. We would have to surpass that historically unheard of numbers.

At this point, I personally am not concerned. There will come a time where the representatives that are fueling this non-sense will start to get pressure from constituents who are either government employees that aren't being paid, or other constituents that rely on the government programs they are trying to kill. Eventually an agreement will be reached.

But if this shutdown hasn't resolved itself by Thanksgiving, then I may start to get concerned.

Government Shutdown concerns I have regarding Trademarks

My biggest concern in the face of a government shutdown is that the electronic system (i.e. TESS/TEAS could go down and then we would just have to file applications and documents by mail like in the old days. 😬

But with the current operating reserves in place, this is unlikely. You can always check on the status of the USPTO systems by clicking here.

The bottom line is that the federal government takes trademarks REALLY seriously. They don't want the USPTO to shutdown anymore than you or I do. It's almost a matter of national security.

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