Because of sufficient funding not linked to the current fiscal year, the United States Patent and Trademark Office will remain open for business and will continue to operate as usual through the close of business on Monday, April 18, 2011 even in the event of a government shutdown. The USPTO has enough reserves to operate for 6 business days even in the event of a government shutdown, and should a shutdown occur and continue longer than 6 days the USPTO anticipates that limited staff would still be able to continue to work to accept new electronic applications and maintain IT infrastructure, among other functions. Thus, USPTO employees are not in any immediate risk of a furlough due to the ongoing fiscal year 2011 budget battle being waged between Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Barack Obama.
I personally don’t believe there will be a shutdown, but business will be as usual at the USPTO through at least Monday, April 18, 2011, giving Patent and Trademark employees and stakeholders broader breathing room than will be enjoyed elsewhere throughout the government.
Normally I don’t like to speculate too much, but where politics is involved I do break that rule since speculation and conjecture is part of the sport of politics when you live in the greater Washington, DC area. That being the case, it is my belief that an 11th hour deal will be reached. Difficult negotiations have a way of taking up all available time, as anyone who has ever been involved in such negotiations can attest to.
President Obama and Senator Reid have gone on record over the past few days saying they have more than met the Republicans half way, and Speaker Boehner has likewise gone on the record saying that he plans to fight for the greatest possible spending cuts that can be achieved. Everyone publicly says they do not want a government shutdown, and the it would seem that the Republicans are positioning themselves to make sure that not a single dollar in available cuts is left on the table, which would mean no deal could be reached until the shutdown is imminent. Despite what you are hearing in the 24/7 news media a shutdown is not imminent. With more than a complete day remaining that leaves plenty of time to take the matter to the brink, which is when the deal will get done.
Time will tell whether my prediction is correct, but in the meantime it is nice to know that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has some leeway to remain open regardless of the brinkmanship.