USPTO Broadcast: Appropriations Status Update

The following message comes from Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce.  The main point is that USPTO will remain in operation even if there is a government ‘shutdown.’:

As many of you are aware, annual funding for the government expires on January 19th. The Administration does not believe it is necessary for a lapse in funding to occur and looks forward to working with the Congress to finalize appropriations for this year.

However, prudent management requires that we be prepared for all contingencies, including the possibility that a lapse could occur. A lapse would mean that a number of government activities would cease due to a lack of appropriated funding and that a number of employees would be temporarily furloughed. To prepare for this possibility, we are working to update our contingency plans for executing an orderly shutdown of activities that would be affected by a lapse in appropriations.

Should such a lapse occur, the USPTO would still have access to prior year fee collections, which enables the agency to continue normal operations for a few weeks. USPTO employees should report to work as normal until and unless you receive notice otherwise. We are working with your Office of General Counsel and Chief Financial Officer to update our contingency plans should the USPTO need to execute an orderly shutdown of activities after that point.

Thank you for your hard work, dedication, and patience through this process, and for all that you do for the Department of Commerce and the American people.

Wilbur L. Ross
Secretary of Commerce

61 thoughts on “USPTO Broadcast: Appropriations Status Update

  1. 5

    Trump wants the wall and radical changes to immigration law. My guess is that Trump sees this as critical to winning reelection (which he has now committed to). So, we may a very long nasty shut-down. The Democrats are going to hold out.

    So, unless the rule change is used, I think we are in for a very, very long shut-down. Trump doesn’t care if the government is shut-down.

    1. 5.1

      I feel that this will either be (1) very short, or (2) 3+weeks. The issues are pretty straight forward, conceptually, so either the sides are willing to work together for a short extension, or make this their hill to die on.

      1. 5.1.1

        Hill to die on? Republi k k k an party is already dead, politically, hence its rejection of democracy.

        All that’s happening here is that some rich r@ cists are holding the country hostage because they’re rich (they aren’t going to suffer) and they want to Make America White Again. They’d rather destabilize the country than be perceived as not sufficiently r@ cist by their worthless “base” of deplorables.

    2. 5.2

      It’s going to be interesting watching Senate Republicans on this one.

      Aside from ideologues like Tom Cotton, Senate Republicans are not opposed to either DACA or a path to citizenship. And they’re leery of taking a strong stance against a position that 85% of Americans support, which will only exacerbate the anticipated blue wave.

      On the other hand, Trump has dug in – because “attack” is his only strategy in every single situation – and the entire GOP Congress hasn’t shown an iota of backbone when it comes to opposing him.

      My guess is that the shutdown will last a while, and that popular opinion will force the issue in 3-4 weeks. My hope is that the public correctly blames the shutdown on the party in sole control of government, and the Senate will eventually pass a DACA/CHIP/Trump-wall bill that the president will begrudgingly sign.

      1. 5.2.1

        My hope is that the public correctly blames the shutdown on the party in sole control of government

        A bit of a misnomer, as if there were indeed “sole control,” then there would be no shut down.

        It takes two – and BOTH are to blame.


          Democrats have been demanding a resolution of both CHIP and DACA for the past year.

          CHIP funding has not been reauthorized since before Paul Ryan was elected. That is not a coincidence – especially since Ryan is now using it as a hostage-taking initiative.

          Consider the bargaining at play here. Republicans are demanding (a) allocating grotesque amounts of money for a spurious wall and (b) the abandonment of 800,000 DACA residents to deportation. In exchange, they are offering Democrats a renewal of a program for health insurance for children.

          Bargaining over urgent essentials that Congress should be doing anyway, in exchange for funding the GOP’s pet projects, is appalling. The “hostage-taking” metaphor is apropos.


            Note again that this is all being driven by an autocratic blatantly r@cist minority within the dying Re pu k k k e party. The party is like a terminal addict. It’s policies are deeply unpopular but it can’t stop playing to the worlds worst people because without them it would be powerless. Hence the onslaught of anti democratic strategies and the rejection of norms that help the government to function. Party before country. These people are disgusting.


            Like yourself, I do not object to the “hostage” metaphor. I would prefer that the legal status of Dreamers be regularized and that CHIP be funded for another 10 years at least (that is the range that has the biggest budget savings, and I cannot see why any sane person should object to budget savings, all other things being equal).

            That said, I guess I am just confused by the whole kerfuffle. The republicans won the election. The democrats lost the election. That means that republicans get to enact their policy priorities into law and the democrats do not.

            So, why is there a “negotiation” necessary in the first place? The republicans should simply vote for whatever it is for which they want to vote, and the president will sign it. No negotiation with democrats is even necessary.

            I can hear—across the vast distance of internet space—a chorus of cries going up from some of you, shouting “but the filibuster rule!”. This is not an answer. Pointing out the filibuster rule does not explain why a negotiation is necessary. It simply makes the whole situation more inexplicable. The filibuster rule is a purely self-imposed rule. It is found nowhere in either the U.S. Code or the Constitution. If the senate majority caucus wanted to pass a budget with 51 votes, it could do so any time. The requirement for 60 votes is simply some absurd condition that the senators have laid on themselves, like a requirement that they recite the alphabet three times backwards while hopping on one foot. They are fully free to impose this rule on themselves if they wish, but they just make themselves look silly in so doing, and would be much better served if they were to drop it.

            In any event, so long as they will insist on honoring this silly and pointless rule, they need to get realistic about the implications of the rule. If you tell a minority caucus “we will not do anything unless at least 9 of your members agree to it,” then you need to be willing to come up with something that 9 of the minority’s members can find agreeable. It is no good for the majority to simply lose their temper with the minority because the minority do not find the majority’s preferences agreeable. The majority are the ones in the position of making the offer, and if they want to play this silly, self-imposed game of requiring 60 votes, then the majority need to make their offer to the minority sweeter.

            Alternatively (as noted before), they could (and should) simply abandon their stupid 60-vote rule. Until and unless they do, however, anything other than sweetening the deal is a waste of their time.

            The really inexplicable bit is that surveys repeatedly show that the majority of the majority’s voters approve of the measures that would make the deal sweet enough to attract 9 democratic senators. It is well-nigh schizophrenic of the majority caucus not to sweeten the deal under those conditions.

            Schizophrenia is a sort of mental illness, so I find myself at the end of this missive, concluding that the senate majority are mentally ill. I suppose I am not saying anything that everyone did not already know.


              “that is the range that has the biggest budget savings, and I cannot see why any sane person should object to budget savings, all other things being equal).”

              Maybe they don’t actually like Chip so they’d prefer it at 0 years but might agree to some lesser amount of years other than 10?


              “Alternatively (as noted before), they could (and should) simply abandon their st upid 60-vote rule. ”

              The republicans had 5 republicans not even vote for the last measure that was essentially the “republican” plan. And one person didn’t vote (who I assume was a republican) so they only had 45 republican votes anyway, not the full 51 that would be needed after they got rid of the 60 vote rule (though 5 dems did sign on leaving them with 50 votes total still not 51). So resci nding the rule as of now is poin tless.


                Come now, this is disingenuous evasion. The senate majority only needs 50 votes. If they can get to 50, then the Vice President can cast the tie-breaking 51st vote.

                In any event, you are talking past the larger point here: the republicans won the last election. They won the house, they won the senate, and they won the white house. The good news is that means that they get to govern. The bad news is that means that they have to govern.

                Negotiations with the minority caucus are a silly waste of time. The right way for the majority to govern is to settle on a budget that the majority can support, and then pass that budget.

                If they really insist, for pointless and unintelligible reasons, on agreeing amongst themselves not to pass a budget unless it can get 60 votes (i.e., at least 9 votes from the minority caucus), then they need to stop balking at the measures necessary to attract those at least 9 votes. If you want to go to heaven, then you need to be willing to die first. Anything else is just bad faith and posturing.


              “. The majority are the ones in the position of making the offer, and if they want to play this silly, self-imposed game of requiring 60 votes, then the majority need to make their offer to the minority sweeter.”

              That’s why the negotiations you don’t understand the need for are needed. They are looking to buy the 9 votes with the least pain possible.


                That is fair enough, I suppose. I still do not understand, however, why all the folderol is considered preferable to just taking their victory and moving on. Right now, the senate majority are letting themselves be held hostage to a 60 vote requirement, and then trying to obviate that self-imposed weakness by insisting that they hold their own hostage.

                Why bother? Why not just abandon the pretense of hostages all around, and pass a budget that it entirely to their own liking, rather than one that has been made sweeter to the minority caucus’ preferences (and by extension, more “painful” to the majority caucus)?

                1. Because when the Republicans are in the minority, when they lose 2 more seats, they are going to want the minority to have some say. Do you really thing a system that ignores 49% of the country is a good idea?

                  Trump won the electoral college, not the popular vote.

                2. because when the Republicans are in the minority, when they lose 2 more seats, they are going to want the minority to have some say


                  The concept of “super majority” exists – and has long existed – far that very reason.

                  Frankly, I am a little surprised that Greg appears to be unaware of this.

                3. Do you really thing a system that ignores 49% of the country is a good idea?

                  You have correctly intuited that I am being a bit willfully obtuse here in order to argue against the filibuster rule. I think that this is a bad rule, that leads to suboptimal legislative process and poor policy outcomes.

                  I will say, however, that your particular response to my argument strikes me as a strange one. No one is talking about “ignoring” 49% of the country. All 100% get to participate in each election, and the elections happen every two years. If 49% of the country should lose one election, they do not have long to wait to try again in the next.

                  That is the way, in other words, that we should properly take the minority’s views into account—by allowing them a vote and a chance to build a different, majority, coalition. Our system of government already has quite enough counter-majoritarian defenses of the minority’s interests (disproportionate representation in the House, extremely disproportionate representation in the Senate, electoral college power based on these disproportionate allocations of House and Senate representation, allocation to the extremely disproportionately apportioned Senate a power to veto any presidential appointment, etc) based on mechanisms explicitly provided in the Constitution. There is neither need nor reason to invent additional countermajoritarian mechanisms on top of the ones that are Constitutionally required.

                4. A bit, Greg?

                  More than a bit (as the ‘point’ you want to reach is simply not reachable as certain things require a super majority – and such have longstanding reasons for that supermajority.

                  The words “disingenuous evasion” come to mind…


            “Democrats have been demanding a resolution of both CHIP and DACA for the past year.”

            All they have to do is give up their muh victim (votes) pipeline and they’ll get them. No giving up the muh victim pipeline = no deal. I don’t know how much simpler to make that. They know this, but they’re addicted to their muh victim pipeline for votes, hoping to one day declare themselves the muh victim party.

            “DACA residents”

            “Residents” makes them sound almost like they’re not everyday illegals. But they are.


              Regardless of “muh victims” or not – it is beyond clear that the “desire” from Greg may “make sense,” but there are additional wrinkles that place that currently out of reach and – as I noted – the current debacle rests on BOTH parties.

              Pretending this is an “only one party” thing is asinine.


              Their parents, who brought them here, came to this country for the same reasons your ancestors came here. Of course now that you’re here as a result of your ancestors “legal” (as far as you know) immigration, you have the same attitude as all the rac!sts in the repukkke party have: “Pull up the ladder and lock the door!”


                As far as I know, NO ONE is making an argument against the current process of naturalizing citizens.

                You offer straw with the “(as far as you know)” attempted aspersion, as illegal immigration was STILL illegal even when prior parents came here LEGALLY.

                As far as that goes, LEGAL immigration also occurs today, and as far as I can tell, NO ONE is making that the point of any argument.

                Sometimes, AAA JJ, you let that liberal tendency of your make your responses just as meaningless as Malcolm’s.

                1. According to u affirmative action is “the same ev!l” as human slavery. Ur credibility is zero.

                2. LOL – here, AAA JJ, it is your credibility that is zero, as you do not even realize how much “your feelings” position is a mirror of Malcolm.

                  Maybe respond on point to my post now, eh?


          What in the world are you talking about? The Republicans are shutting down the government. There is no “both sides” here you f. King derpshirt.


            There very much are both sides, as it should be more than eminently clear on that point.

            To Greg’s point I would merely add that the majority choice to be constrained to a super majority makes it clear that the “two sides” is put into effect in spite of the more traditional “control” view (majority being simply NOT enough control to avert a shutdown when that pot is NOT sweetened for the mere nine).

            There yet remain two sides to shutting the government down and BOTH sides are to blame.


            5 republicans didn’t vote for the last measure I saw, and 5 democrats did. The rest went down party lines and 1 person didn’t vote leaving them with 50 votes as aye. So it isn’t a purely partisan divide this time.

            Now to say Trump is shutting down the gubmit might be more correct, but even that isn’t exactly correct. Trump would sign a pure spending bill. Even one with solely chip iirc. The dems are insisting on putting in DACA stuff. And since they’re insisting on DACA then Trump has to insist on wall etc while the senate is divided on just about everything.

            At least that’s my understanding.


              Oh and they technically require 60 votes for this vote, they only had 50. This is the senate so normal votes usually require 51, but this one takes 60 unless they change the rules.


            MM, Republicans offered a continuing resolution keep the government open for another limited period of time but that was rejected by the Democrats. From my understanding, and you can correct me if I’m wrong in this, the House-passed version that the Senate did not accept included every demand by the Democrats for funding this or that (I don’t know details on this) that they asked for in a meeting with Trump.

            Recall, that the Senate requires 60 votes to pass a budget. The Republicans do not control the Senate to the extent of 60 votes. At least 9 Democrats must also vote in favor.

            I don’t see how one can say that the Republicans are trying to shut the government down when they are offering continuing resolutions to continue to fund the government while negotiations on these other items continue. It seems to me that the Democrats are the ones issuing ultimatums.


              It seems to me that the Democrats are the ones issuing ultimatums.

              I think that you are correct that the Democrats have issued an ultimatum, although the Republicans have as well (so-called “chain” migration & military funding increase). The difference is that the Democrats agreed to the Republican ultimatum, while the Republicans have not agreed to the Democrats’ ultimatum.

              The strange point of all of this, however, is why anyone should care about the Democrats’ ultimatum. The democrats lost the election, and thus have no power here.

              Imagine that Mr. Barnabus Walpole were to declare himself emperor of New York. That does not make him emperor of New York. It is just something that he says about himself. Imagine, then, that Mr. Walpole were to order the New York government to close all highways. The logical response would be for the government simply to ignore him. After all, he is not really emperor.

              Imagine, however, that the New York legislature and governor were to say to themselves “some yahoo who calls himself emperor has ordered us to close down the highways. We had better do that.” Whom should the New York voters hold responsible at the next election for the disruption caused by this totally unnecessary traffic stoppage?

              It seems to me that the correct answer here is that New Yorkers should hold the governor and legislators who ordered the shut down responsible. Do I take it that your answer is, instead, that they should hold the soi-disant “emperor” responsible? If not, then why would it make sense to blame the Democrats in the present stand-off?


                then why would it make sense to blame the Democrats in the present stand-off?

                Easy answer: blame BOTH sides.

                This is nothing more than typical two-party politics at play. BOTH sides are to blame.

                Even as this particular incident passes, the “spin”*** is already being thrown out there as to which of the two parties are to blame; and it remains that both parties are to blame.

                ***A quick Google search provides a Republican leaning Washington Post article and Democrat leaning New York Times article.

                link to
                (features the quote: “HOW IT’S PLAYING: — This morning’s clips are brutal for Senate Democrats, especially Schumer. The mainstream media coverage is portraying them, almost universally, as weak-kneed and hapless. They’re getting mocked on the right and hammered even harder from left-leaning outlets.“)

                link to

                Don’t be f001ed by either.

    3. 5.3

      I think we are in for a very, very long shut-down.

      You had every good reason to expect that, but hopefully such is not the case. It appears that the senate have found a compromise that will re-open the government until mid-February. Looks like they decided to side-step the DACA issue, and accept the basic outlines of the House budget, so we should be good for another few weeks.

    1. 4.1

      I seem to remember the last time this happened that the federal workers didn’t have to go to work for something like 6 weeks (this was in the 1990’s), but the bill passed retroactively paid them for the 6 weeks they sat at home. Must be nice.

    2. 4.2

      Have you noticed the other “close-downs” going on right here?

      link to

      Odd things with the comment section has been happening for the better part of a week now.

      Notice too that the comments are no longer numbered?

      I guess that being able to explicitly point out a particular comment (in order to take issue with it, challenge it, or debunk the contents thereof) is being frowned upon as detracting from the desired narrative.

      Why else mess around and remove the comment numbers?

      When the narrative is made to be MORE opaque (and more conducive to Internet-style “Shoutdowns,” you have a clear sign that somebody is unhappy that clarity is being achieved.

      1. 4.2.1

        Hmm, I’d actually noticed that the comments were being better moderated lately to remove unrelated, fiery political posts. Not all of them, but a lot of them were removed, which is a lot more than before.


          Your notice is flawed.

          Sure, Malcolm has had posts removed. But not nearly as your comment suggests. Look at this thread alone.

          No. I was indicating something else.

      2. 4.2.2

        There is a lot of filtering and editing of comments. It is disheartening to spend time writing out a comment only to have it deleted.

        But, by and large, my comments have not been deleted.

        (Frankly, I think you may want to consider anon not engaging with MM. I don’t think many people even bother to read his comments. )


          Ah, Night Writer, if only that were true.

          One only has to look at the group of sAme ones here: for example, Marty, Ben, and Ned; to see that the old adage of propaganda remains true to form: repeat a L 1 E often enough, and it garners a semblance of truth.

          Much like your vigilance directed to academics, there remains a need for rebutting the caricature of Malcolm and his own brand of “cohorts.” Would you even follow your own advice to me?

          Note then as well, that even as Malcolm has not changed his blight in coming up to twelve years, the editorial “controls” do nothing at all to contain that blight (aside from the occasional purge of pure political rants that have no business here).

          Read some of the recent threads – see how the removal of the numbers from the comments make it even more difficult to see when obvious</i< tripe is rebutted, and ask yourself , what possible reason could there be to make following the narrative as it unfolds (and is rebutted) more difficult, to provide more obscuring of a pro-patent message?

          Na, I think that I will continue to rebut as I please.


            Fair enough. I think Ned is the core of the group and he is just repeating what his friend R. Stern taught him.

      3. 4.2.3

        I guess that being able to explicitly point out a particular comment (in order to take issue with it, challenge it, or debunk the contents thereof) is being frowned upon as detracting from the desired narrative.

        Or maybe the space aliens are up to something. Maybe they removed the comments just so see how we would react. No worries — I’m sure that you’ll still be selected for a tour of the mothership.

  2. 3

    Can we please N U K E the purely political rants as they have ZERO to do with any patent law related issues?

    Please place them with the multitude of other expunged Malcolm rants.

    Thank you.

    1. 3.1

      N U K E the purely political rants as they have ZERO to do with any patent law related issues

      Right. Let’s just pretend that the US patent system exists in a perfect and pure bubble, completely isolated from US politics in general.

      Except when it doesn’t, of course, which is when “anon” says so. And lo and behold “anon” was mighty quiet about “political rants” when his bff’s ranted for a solid decade about “leftists” coming to take away everyone’s “private property” and “freedom of speech.”

      Oh how soon he forgets. But we expected that because he’s a whiny petulant baby hypocrite. Keep the laughs coming, Billy.

      1. 3.1.1

        This has nothing to do with pretending anything.

        THIS site is not a open political whining site.

        Unless the good professor WANTS to change the site – then change the name, the byline, and the rules for posting.

        Otherwise, let’s try to keep the comments to be those that pertain to actual patent law issues. There are plenty of other sites that not only allow but desire your whining, “Billy.”

        As to “completely isolated from US politics in general” your whines show ZERO tie to any general US political point.


        Your whining is nothing more than that: whining.

        ALL of the things that you attempt to Accuse Others of – those posts have an immediate tie to the notion of patents as property.

        Your whining has NO tie – immediate or otherwise.

        That you attempt to equate the two is beyond preposterous.



            Near as I can tell, the quotes are meant to induce the “it s u c k s for you” OPPOSITE aspect of the Urban Dictionary good connotations:

            link to

            All that it ends up here being though is merely yet another mindless ad hominem attack from Malcolm.

            The Blight that is quickly closing in (February) on an even dozen years of the same old same old.

            Malcom truly is the Trump of these boards and a caricature of how (and who) NOT to be.


                The positive connotations are definitely appealing to a juvenile mind. That’s why Malcolm thinks himself so clever by putting the term in quotes and trying to use the term in its opposite sense.

                It’s not clever at all.

                But that’s Malcolm being Malcolm.

  3. 2

    This shutdown and its effect on the patent system is just another example of the connectedness of a blatantly r@ cist President and his dying party’s despicable and unpopular and anti-democratic policies/priorities to, well, everything.

    Let’s just shut everything down and watch the rich get richer. Fun!

  4. 1

    You’d think that the PTO – as a user-funded institution in continuous operation for 43 years – would have more than “a few weeks” of operating expenses socked away.

    Fee diversion ftl.

    1. 1.1

      Cannot agree with you David.

      Once those past fees were diverted, they were gone.

      Now IF (as many of us pro patent types had expressed desire for) past thievery from innovators – as the takings of funds paid for by innovators and using those funds as a general tax slush fund can rightfully be characterized – had been made an explicit part of the AIA with the recognition that such last purloined funds needed to be restored for the purpose those funds were obtained, then I could (and would) eagerly agree with you.

      1. 1.1.1

        Also, the PTO is not a for profit organization. It is only supposed to charge what it needs to get the job done.


          “Not-for-profit” (aka “nonprofit”) has a very specific meaning: that the money of the institution cannot distribute its surplus income as a private benefit, such as shareholder dividends and executive bonuses. Nonprofits can pay wages – and even productivity bonuses, up to a point.

          “Nonprofit” does not mean that the agency cannot have an endowment. Public universities are by definition nonprofit, and yet pretty much every one has an endowment – the University of Texas is sitting on $25 billion for exactly this reason.


            Clearly then “Not-for-Profit” is not the correct term.

            But Les’s post does indicate his desired meaning: the Office is not meant to be a profit center, and all incoming monies (from innovators) are meant to pay – and ONLY pay – for the services FOR innovators.


              Paying into an endowment to keep the USPTO operational during crises is “paying for the services for inventors.” It ensures that the system will remain available for them in the future.


                It is too bad then that the USPTO is not set up that way, eh David?

                Diversion still occurs.


            Not-for-profit” (aka “nonprofit”) has a very specific meaning:

            Both of those phrases have specific meanings, and they are not the same.

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