Monday, January 7, 2019

U.S. Government Shutdown Is Not Helping U.S. IP-Based Business

The shut down, or slow down, of various U.S. government offices caused by the budget impasse is doing more than merely inconveniencing visitors to the national parks. The lack of a budget is hampering business and consumers as to their branding, knowledge and creative endeavors. Here are some examples:

  • Federal law requires that all labels for alcoholic beverages must be approved by the Treasury's Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (the TTB). When the TTB operates smoothly, it is easy for a brewery or winery to submit label applications, submit payments, and submit other required reports to the TTB. Labeling approval by the TTB, in turn, allows the distribution of alcohol products in U.S. commerce. But the TTB is now non-functional. It is not presently approving label applications and required reports. "Submissions will not be reviewed or approved until appropriations are enacted." So, if you are a brewery, winery, distiller or alcohol importer, don't bother bottling new offerings. You cannot distribute new offerings in U.S. commerce at this time without label approval.
  • The National Archives is closed due to the budget issues. "Due to the shutdown of the Federal Government, National Archives facilities are closed, websites and social media are not being updated or monitored, and activities are canceled." The National Archives provides access to a treasure trove of invaluable research, including historical military and veterans' service records, primary educational resources including educational and historical documents, records and photographs, and U.S. founding documents including the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
  • The federal patent and trademark office is presently open for business due to its budget surplus from prior year fee collections. But once these funds are exhausted, "the agency would have to shut down at that time." So, in that event, no more patents will be processed or issued, and the same goes for trademark registrations and renewals.
  • U.S. Customs (CBP -- Customs and Border Protection, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security) is charged with preventing counterfeit goods from coming into the U.S. through U.S. ports of entry. But the website and the CBP website are nonoperational due to the lapse in funding.
  • Similarly, the CBP allows businesses to obtain confidential status for their U.S. imports and exports in order to protect confidential shipping information and trade secrets. This service is presently nonfunctional.
  • Federal courts run out of money this coming Friday, January 11, 2019. And since patent and copyright claims can only be filed in federal court, owners of these rights may be hampered in protection of their IP.
  • The Federal Drug Administration, an agency that regulates and approves new life-saving advances in medications, can no longer accept new fee-based filings during 2019 because of the budget impasse.
There are many more examples of how the present budget impasse is harming U.S. creative and inventive business -- and the public. But this is enough.

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