The new derivation proceedings enacted by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act include one-year deadlines for instituting derivation proceedings, based on the publication or issue date of a relevant patent claim. To the extent that these deadlines were intended to mirror 35 USC § 135(b), they may include an unintended trap for the unwary based on the USPTO’s interpretation of similar language in the deadline for filing an application for Patent Term Extension under 35 USC § 156.
Applicants facing USPTO deadlines over the next few days should not assume that the USPTO will be closed in the event of a federal government shutdown. Quite to the contrary, Director Kappos has informed USPTO personnel that the USPTO will remain open, at least in the near term.
The Director’s message also indicates that, even in the event of a longer shutdown, at least some USPTO personnel will continue to work “to accept new applications and maintain IT infrastructure.” Thus, Applicants should not assume that any deadlines will be extended or waived.
A Message from Director David Kappos
As you know, the Administration is working diligently with Congress to ensure that the federal government remains open and continues to do its work on behalf of the American people. However, I wanted to personally inform you that even in the event of a government shutdown on April 9, 2011, the United States Patent and Trademark Office will remain open and continue to operate as usual, for a fixed period, with all USPTO staff continuing to work and being paid.
Because the USPTO maintains sufficient funding not linked to the current fiscal year, the USPTO can and will stay open for business. We have enough available reserves to remain in operation for six business days and intend to do so. During that time we will continue to process the patent and trademark applications that drive our country’s innovative economy. Should a shutdown continue longer than the six-day period, a small staff will continue to work to accept new applications and maintain IT infrastructure, among other functions.
I know this news may prompt some additional questions. As soon as any new information comes to light, we will make sure to inform you thoroughly and promptly. Your respective business unit managers will also be reaching out to you to provide further clarification if needed.
Thank you for your hard work and your continued public service.
The USPTO issued a press release with the same information:
USPTO Prepares for Possible Government Shutdown
In the event of a government shutdown on April 9, 2011, the United States Patent and Trademark Office will remain open and continue to operate as usual for a period of six business days – through Monday, April 18, 2011 — because the USPTO has enough available reserves, not linked to the current fiscal year, to remain in operation until then. Should a shutdown occur and continue longer than the six-day period, we anticipate that limited staff will be able to continue to work to accept new electronic applications and maintain IT infrastructure, among other functions. More information will be posted on this website as it becomes available. Thank you.