Patent Ethics

Lawyer Who Photoshopped Self Into Celebrity Photos Posted On Firm Website Suspended For Deceptive Advertising

“You are known by the company you keep” – Aesop’s Fables As lawyers, we are often judged by prospective clients based upon the quality of our past or existing clients.  If you represent a large, rich, powerful corporation, the message that sends to a prospective client is – if he or she is good enough …

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Attorneys At Grave Risk For Online Fraud: LinkedIn Meets The Nigerian Letter Scam

On Christmas Eve, I received quite an unexpected surprise–an unsolicited invitation to become a “LinkedIn” connection with none other than Harry S. Truman.  Holy cow!  After all, it isn’t every day that I am honored to network with a former Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States of America. Now, I must admit …

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Mass. Sup. Ct. Rules In Favor Of Finnegan, Henderson In Subject Matter Conflicts Malpractice Case

On December 23, 2015, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued an opinion dismissing a malpractice complaint filed against an IP law firm for failure to state a claim.  See Maling v. Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP.  A copy of the Massachusetts SJC’s opinion is here.  For our previous discussions about the facts and procedural …

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District Court Holds USPTO’s Reciprocal Discipline Rule Requires Agency To Impose “Identical” Sanction As State Bar

USPTO practitioners take heed — if you are publicly disciplined on ethical grounds by a State Bar, the USPTO must impose the identical disciplinary sanction as the State Bar.  Moreover, Section 11.24 provides practitioners notice regarding the procedure to be followed if a practitioner is disciplined on ethical grounds by another jurisdiction.  Those are the …

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Black Friday Comes Early: $4.95 Flat-Rate Legal Service Raises Ethical Concerns

Attention all shoppers.  Legal fees now at deeply discounted prices.  The ABA and a cloud-based computing service have launched a new fixed-price program to provide on-demand legal advice for small businesses.  The price? A flat rate of $4.95.  That is not a typo. In a Thursday press release, the ABA and Rocket Lawyer announced that they have begun testing ABA Law Connect in Illinois, …

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Jackass Of The Month: IP Lawyer Sanctioned For “Maelstrom of Misconduct” In Pro Se Divorce Case

This month we launched the “Jackass of the Month” award. The award recognizes the IP practitioner whose exceptional or extraordinary conduct befits the title of being, well, a real jackass. This month’s award goes to Anthony J. Zappin, a 30-year-old Ivy League-educated patent attorney.  Zappin was  slapped last week with a reprimand and $10,000 fine …

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“What We’ve Got Here Is Failure To Communicate”  – Preventing The Most Common Cause For Attorney Discipline And Malpractice

It is one of the most iconic lines in the history of American cinema.  Spoken by “The Captain”–the sadistic prison warden portrayed in the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke—the “failure to communicate” passage near the top of the American Film Institute’s list of top 100 movie quotations, nestled between “I love the smell of napalm …

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USPTO Suspends Attorney For Six Months For Derogatory Patent Filings

This week at “Back to School Night,” I read with great interest some words of wisdom posted on the wall as part of a set of class “Rules.” The children agreed to three general principles of self-governance: Be nice to others. Don’t use bad words. Be respectful. Lawyers also have their own rules of self-governance, codified …

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