Patent Ethics

Practitioner Beware: Outsourcing Patent Applications May Be Illegal

I am solicited on an almost daily basis by overseas organizations offering deeply-discounted patent application drafting services.  It may very well be that such services, which typically originate from countries where there is an abundant supply of technically-skilled labor, can offer a competitive product at significant cost savings compared to fees charged by U.S. patent …

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PTO Excludes Patent Attorney Who Paid Client To Deep-Six Ethics Complaint

Money can buy many things.  When a lawyer and client have a dispute, such as a client’s claim for legal malpractice, money often can buy “peace.”  And when clients and their lawyers settle such a  dispute, it is common for the parties to agree by contract to dismiss—or refrain from filing—a civil complaint. But a …

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Breadth Of PTO Ethics Opinion Could Alter How IP Firms Interact With Foreign Associates

This post is the last of a three-part series reviewing how the USPTO interprets and applies its ethics rules to IP practitioners who represent patent and trademark clients through non-practitioner intermediaries. Where Are We Now: Evolution of PTO Ethics Opinions Thirty years ago, the PTO issued (in 1987 and 1988) ethics opinions regarding very discrete …

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Better Late Than Never: PTO Updates, Expands Ethics Advice On Client Intermediaries

This post is the second in a three-part series reviewing how the USPTO interprets and applies its ethics rules to U.S. patent and trademark practitioners who represent clients by working through non-practitioner client intermediaries. In re Mikhailova and USPTO’s Expanded Ethics Guidance Three decades after the OG Notices, the USPTO published a final order in …

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Are Your Firm’s Foreign Associate Practices Ethical?

It is commonplace for IP law firms in the United States to receive referrals for patent and trademark application filing, prosecution, and related services from sources other than the actual client.  In one of the most common scenarios, patent and trademark services are directed to a U.S. IP law firm through an intermediary, such as …

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Mandatory Ethics Training For Patent Agents Is Long Overdue

What formal ethics training is required of a U.S. patent agent?  None. What minimal level of competency in ethics must a patent agent demonstrate in order to qualify for a license to practice patent law before the USPTO?  Again, the answer is “None.” For attorneys, ethics training is of considerable importance.  It starts in law …

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Sue-And-Settle NPE Patent Litigation Tactics May Violate USPTO Ethics Rules

Non-practicing entities who engage in a pattern of filing numerous lawsuits without any intention of testing the merits, solely to extract low ball settlements, should take note that the USPTO’s Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED) takes a keen interest in such conduct.  A recent “exceptional case” decision in a patent case from federal court …

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This Post Could Save Your Patent Law License

Some patent attorneys and agents are under the impression that once they have passed the Patent Bar exam and have earned a PTO registration number, they are essentially registered for life, with no further action required on their part.  If you are one of those people, then you should read on. One of the jobs …

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