Patent Ethics

Litigators Beware: Bad News Can Trigger USPTO Ethics Investigation

Bad news sells.  As the author Douglas Adams observed, “Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.” Take IP litigation, for example.  The mainstream IP media regularly reports on both allegations and court decisions regarding issues relating to attorney conduct–or alleged misconduct. …

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You Just Received An OED Bar Grievance. Now What?

The only time a patent attorney or agent ever wants to hear from the USPTO’s Office of Enrollment and Discipline is when they are admitted to the Patent Bar and issued a registration number. Other than that, no news is good news. So if an envelope arrives from the OED (certified mail, return receipt requested), …

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CAFC Finds Patent Holder’s Position On Standing “Unreasonable” And “Remarkably Weak,” Affirms Atty Fees Award

On January 25, 2017, the Federal Circuit ruled a district court did not abuse its discretion when it awarded the prevailing party’s attorneys’ fees under 35 U.S.C. § 285 based upon the losing party’s conduct with respect to responding to one particular issue in discovery. In National Oilwell Varco, L.P. v. Omron Oilfield & Marine, …

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Plaintiff Gets Judicial Scolding: “If This Case Is Not Exceptional, Then There Are None”

It says a lot when the busiest patent judge in the United States calls a patent lawsuit “the clearest example of an exceptional case” he has ever seen. That is precisely what happened earlier this week, when Judge Rodney Gilstrap of the Eastern District of Texas, who personally handles one-quarter of all patent cases filed …

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IP Firm Tees Up Dismissal Of Subject Matter Conflict, Negligent Patent Prosecution Malpractice Case

A recent patent malpractice action filed in federal court in New York against an IP firm raises once again the issue of subject matter conflicts between concurrent clients in prosecuting patent applications in a similar field of technology.  The issue of subject matter conflicts in concurrent patent representation continues to be an area of significant …

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CAFC Sanctions Patent Atty For Frivolous Appeal; Is USPTO Discipline Next?

The Federal Circuit on Friday affirmed a district court’s order imposing sanctions against a Colorado patent attorney and his patentee client for vexatious litigation.  Doubling down, the Federal Circuit imposed its own sanctions for what it says was a frivolous appeal.  See Walker v. Health International Corp., No. 15-1676 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 6, 2017).  The CAFC’s ruling opens the …

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Failure To Communicate No. 1 Cause Of USPTO Attorney Discipline

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, since it is the New Year I thought it would be helpful to remind you all, again, of what is in my opinion the First Commandment of Ethics:  Thou Shalt Communicate With Thy Clients. Seriously.  Clients do not like to be ignored by their attorneys.  This …

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