by Dennis Crouch
If the 2013 Sequester holds through the end of FY2013, it looks like the USPTO will be forced to cut about $148 million from its FY2013 budget of $2.951 billion. [White House Report on Sequestration]. This amount represents 5% of the agency's annual budget.
However, the USPTO's fee collections for FY2013 have fallen somewhat under the budgeted amount. Under USPTO budget rules, the executive agency can only spend what it brings in through fees with a maximum cap set by the budget. If this trend continues through the major fee shake-up of March 16, 2013, then we should not see any direct serious direct impact due to an ongoing sequester.
The Federal Circuit will be expected to cut about $2 million from its $30 million budget. Chief Judge Rader previously indicated the Court's intention to continue to provide the highest quality opinions in the same timely manner. Still, the cuts have to come from somewhere. The judges may take a voluntary pay cut and hourly employees could receive reduced hours.
Update: An official at the Department of Commerce has confirmed that the USPTO is subject to sequestration but that the agency is already operating below the sequester's funding level.