IP Ethics

Federal Court DQs Law Firm in Patent Infringement Case, Rejecting Advance Conflict Waiver

A federal court in Alabama yesterday disqualified a law firm from representing a new client in a patent infringement case against a current firm client. In Southern Visions, LLP v. Red Diamond, Inc. (N.D. Ala. Feb. 26, 2019), the court held that Bradley Arant Boult Cummings (“Bradley”) was ethically barred from representing one client (Southern …

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All In The Family: The Tricky Ethics Of Corporate Affiliate Conflicts

If you represent a corporation, do you represent all entities in the corporate family? For example, if you represent a parent company, does that mean you also represent the parent’s subsidiaries? Does it matter if a subsidiary is wholly-owned vs. partially owned? How about if you represent a subsidiary–does that mean you also represent its …

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Colorado Supreme Court Shuts Down Sham “Expert” Patent Law Firm

On February 6, 2019, the Colorado Supreme Court shuttered a Colorado business, which once billed itself as an “expert patent law” firm, and its owner, for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. According to the Court’s order (here), Intelligent Patent Services, LLC (IPS) and its non-lawyer owner, Dak Steiert, are enjoined from engaging in …

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Leaving South Tahoe: Will Your Advance Conflict Waiver Survive Sheppard Mullin v. J-M Manufacturing?

On Friday, August 30, 2018, the California Supreme Court ruled that a blanket advanced conflict waiver signed by two current clients, which purported to authorize lawyers from Sheppard Mullin to accept an unrelated representation of one client adverse to another, was void against public policy because the firm failed to obtain informed consent.  Even though …

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Don’t Let The Screen Door Hit You: The Ethics Of Switching Firms

You are sitting at your desk when the phone rings.  It’s a head hunter. The caller tells you about an amazing opportunity with another firm across town.  That call starts a series of calls and meetings.  Eventually, the new firm offers you a position.  There are, however, two strings attached.  First, the new firm expects …

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Putting Teeth Into The PTAB’s Sanctioning Powers: Is Mohawk A Sign Of Things To Come?

For federal court practitioners, sanctions have long existed as a deterrent to litigation misconduct and a weapon against gamesmanship.  The federal rules of civil procedure provide a range of tools for litigators who believe their opponents are not abiding by their obligations: Rule 11 checks improper pleadings and other court filings; Rules 26, 30 and …

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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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Greenberg Traurig Avoids Former Client’s DQ Motion By Consenting To Withdrawal

Greenberg Traurig has apparently decided that discretion is the better part of valor.  The law firm has agreed voluntarily to withdraw as counsel from a litigation rather than face a disqualification motion in which it was charged with a conflict of interest for trying to invalidate patents it helped prosecute.  We previously reported here that …

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