Every December there is a sort of game of chicken, with federal employees (and customers of the USPTO) wondering until the last minute whether the President will sign an executive order giving federal employees an extra day off from work around Christmas. This affects customers of the USPTO because they need to know whether patent applications and responses can be postponed until the next working day.
Slightly over half of the time over the last twenty years or so, what has happened in December is that the President signs such an order. There has never been more than two or three weeks’ advance notice, and sometimes the Presidential order has been signed just a few days before the would-be holiday.
In 2014 Christmas fell on a Thursday (and thus was a federal holiday), and on December 5 of that year the President signed an order giving everybody an extra day off on Friday the 26th. This meant that any patent application or response that would normally be due on the 25th or 26th or 27th or 28th could be postponed until the 29th.
In 2013 Christmas fell on a Wednesday and the president did not give any extra time off.
So how will it be this Christmas season? Will federal employees get the day off on Thursday the 24th? Will customers of the USPTO be able to put off filings that would have been due on the 24th until Monday the 28th?
Part of the answer for Christmas 2015 is that (unless at the last minute December 24th becomes a snow day) any filing that is due on Thursday, December 24th will be due that day. USPTO customers will not get to postpone such filings until Monday the 28th.
The other part of the answer is that while federal employees will not get the day off on Thursday, December 24th, they will get a half a day off. The President signed an order on December 11, 2015 to this effect.
The thing is that according to USPTO rules, you only get a free pass on having to file something in the USPTO on a particular day if the USPTO is closed the entire day. A mere half-day closure does not give you the free pass.
Here are some earlier years’ results:
- 2012 – Monday the 24th off
- 2011, 2010 – none
- 2009 – half a day off on Thursday the 24th, like this result in 2015
- 2008 – Friday the 26th off
- 2007 – Monday the 24th off
- 2006, 2005, 2004 – none
- 2003 – Friday the 26th off
- 2002 – half a day off on Tuesday the 24th
- 2001 – Monday the 24th off