January 24, 2017

“Federal Hiring Freeze Could Hurt Patent Quality,” Law360, January 24, 2017

President Donald Trump fulfilled a campaign pledge Monday and instituted a hiring freeze in the federal workforce, a move attorneys believe has the potential to hurt the quality of patents and hamper recent efforts by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to reduce a patent application backlog.

In one of his first actions as president, Trump signed an executive memorandum that halts hiring for all new and existing positions within the federal government, with exceptions for those in the military or positions deemed vital to national security or public safety.

In the short term, it’s not expected the order will have a major effect on operations at the USPTO. But if the freeze remains in place for a sustained period of time and positions at the patent office go unfilled, attorneys said the impact could be significant.

“If [the hiring freeze] lasts a year or more, I think we’re going to see some increases in application pendency,” said Derek Richmond, an attorney at Harness Dickey & Pierce PLC. “That will obviously affect those technologies where the value of the patent is more upfront.”

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