Will Sequestration Affect the USPTO?

Will the across-the-board budget cuts required by the Budget Control Act of 2011 reduce services provided by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office?  

In the short term, not likely.  According to the Patent Office Professional Association:

While the White House through OPM has designated the USPTO to take a $242 Million hit with sequestration, the agency should not feel a practical hit from that cut in funding.  That is because the sequestration amount is taken off of our appropriated funds.  However, we are only allowed to spend what we take in through our fee income. . . [Currently] we are funded at . . .  about 2.7 Billion.  However, our current fee income is running somewhat less than 2.5 B.  So even if we took off the 242M sequestration, it only brings us down to about what we are taking in through fees anyhow.

Because of this, patent and trademark applicants are not likely to see any immediate reductions in service.  However, given the current fiscal crisis, it’s always possible that Congress could change the rules for USPTO funding in the future.  In addition, the potential (although unlikely) prospect of a total government shutdown on March 27, 2013 would affect the USPTO just like all other “non-essential” government programs.

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