Patent Litigation Ethics

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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Putting On Your Halo: Patent Litigators’ Ethical Duty To Communicate Change In Willfulness Law

Last week, the Supreme Court issued an opinion that significantly altered the legal landscape for proving willful infringement in patent cases. In Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc., the Supreme Court rejected the Federal Circuit’s two-part Seagate test for awarding enhanced damages under 35 USC § 284, finding that both the substantive requirement for “objective recklessness” …

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Tales From The OED Crypt: Using Forged Document To Trick Witness Can Get Counsel Treated To Discipline

Lawyers often are accused of playing “tricks” in litigation. For those who are familiar with trial tactics, the “trick” label is usually nothing more than legal “tradecraft” – the techniques of experienced litigators to weave a story through a combination of arguments, documents, and witness testimony. Pretending to read from a document while asking a …

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IP Litigators Beware: Bad News May Be Hazardous To Your Law License (Part 2 of 2)

Bad news on the doorstep.  I couldn’t take one more step.  Don McLean – American Pie In the last year, many “bad news” articles have been published arising from IP litigation. Not surprisingly, a growing number of those articles have been based on exceptional case findings and awards of attorneys’ fees under the Octane Fitness …

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IP Litigators Beware: Bad News May Be Hazardous To Your Law License (Part 1 of 2)

Many years ago, before Al Gore invented the internet and teenagers rode their bicycles before dawn, their palms black with ink, to deliver “the paper,” science fiction novelist Douglas Adams observed, “Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.”  Truer words today could not be …

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The Perfect Protostorm: Jury Awards Startup $8 Million For Botched Patent Application

Most patent malpractice cases are the result of not a single error by one person, but a combination of errors, often involving multiple individuals. Such a combination of errors led to a Virginia intellectual property firm’s failure to file its client’s, Protostorm LLC’s, patent application. The end result: on October 10, 2014, a federal judge in …

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Courts Sanction Patent Counsel for Litigation Misconduct–Will USPTO Discipline Be Next?

What happens in patent litigation does not necessarily stay in litigation.  This is especially true if a court sanctions counsel for litigation misconduct.  News about such conduct travels quickly. Inevitably, it catches the attention of a different, and potentially more dangerous, audience–the Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED).  Depending on the nature and severity of the litigation misconduct, an OED ethics investigation followed by formal charges alleging litigation counsel violated the USPTO’s Rules of …

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Mega Firm Withdraws From Patent Infringement Suit After Former Client Alleges Conflict of Interest

On September 29, 2014, K&L Gates voluntarily withdrew as defendant’s counsel in a patent infringement action after the plaintiff asked a California federal district court to disqualify the Am Law 100 firm for a conflict of interest because the firm had previously represented the plaintiff regarding the same patents at issue in the litigation. See …

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