Competence

Get Out Of Town: The Ethical Perils Of Outsourcing IP Services

Many IP lawyers engage other lawyers or nonlawyers as independent contractors, directly or through intermediaries, to provide various legal and nonlegal support services. The outsourcing market, often referred to as the “legal process outsourcing” market or “professional employer organization” market, is a multi-billion dollar industry. While there is nothing per se unethical about a lawyer outsourcing …

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What They Didn’t Teach In Law School: The Ethical Duty Of “Technical Competence”

“True wisdom is knowing what you don’t know.” — Confucius One of my former partners, a brilliant patent lawyer who was (and is) widely respected in the patent bar, used his desktop computer for one purpose and one purpose only—as a convenient surface on which to attach yellow sticky post-it notes to himself. To my …

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The Ethics of Independence

“Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom” – Albert Einstein As we prepare to celebrate the birthday of our country’s independence, I am reminded that we, as lawyers, owe a significant ethical duty to exercise independence in the representation of our clients.  As an attorney, …

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IP Counsel Who Blindly Follow Client “Instructions” Risk Loss Of Law License

Intellectual Property law firms often receive substantive documents, including original applications and amendments, with “instructions” from their client to file the paper in the USPTO, essentially as is. And just as often, IP counsel dutifully follow their clients’ orders and simply have a non-lawyer “clean up” the document so it “looks” right and, without any substantive …

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SCOTUS Threatens Sanctions Against Patent Attorney: Is USPTO Ethical Discipline Next?

Last week, the United States Supreme Court turned more than a few heads when it issued an attorney discipline order against Howard Shipley – a partner at Foley & Lardner, LLC – for his conduct relating to a (denied) petition for writ of certiorari.  The Supreme Court is demanding that, within 40 days, Shipley show cause “why …

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USPTO Suspends Ethically-Challenged Patent Attorney

On August 19, 2014, the USPTO Director issued a final order suspending a patent attorney for 20-months based on three separate suspensions issued by the Supreme Court of California. The USPTO added an additional six-month period to the suspension—for a total suspension of 26 months—based on the attorney’s failure to cooperate with the OED’s disciplinary …

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Former Client Publicly Blasts Attorney Suspended by USPTO for Failure to Communicate

The USPTO recently settled a disciplinary action filed against an IP attorney by suspending him from practice before the Office for five (5) months for failing to communicate and allowing his clients’ trademark applications to become abandoned without their knowledge or consent.  In re Shaffer, No. D2014-18. This disciplinary matter arose from an attorney’s representation of two …

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USPTO Excludes Attorney For Practicing Trademark Law With Suspended License

The USPTO Deputy Director has accepted the resignation of a suspended practitioner who was caught prosecuting trademark matters while his USPTO bar license was suspended. The action means the attorney, Leonard Tachner, is excluded from practice before the Office in patent, trademark, and other non-patent matters. In re Tachner, No. D2014-22. The saga of Mr. Tachner’s ethical troubles began ten years ago. At …

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