PTO Ethics Decisions

PTAB And District Court Litigators Risk USPTO Ethical Discipline For Protective Order Violations

In patent litigation, one of the first orders of business is entry of a protective order protecting the participant’s confidential information. While protective orders come in all shapes and sizes, such orders uniformly prohibit a receiving party from disclosing a producing party’s confidential information except to a limited universe of defined individuals. In addition, a …

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Caveat IP Lawyer – Beware The Office of Enrollment and Discipline Violating The USPTO’s Reciprocal Discipline Rules

At first glance, the USPTO’s most recently published disciplinary decision seems relatively bland and altogether innocuous. The case of In re Juliet M. Oberding, Proceeding No. D2016-06 (USPTO Dir. Feb. 12, 2016) involves a California-based trademark attorney who told a client on several occasions, over the course of roughly 18 months, that the client’s trademark …

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Bar Counsel Imposes Discipline For “Personal” Misconduct & Legal But Unethical Behavior

Many members of the public, and some attorneys themselves, believe that if they do not lie, they do not steal, and they do not cheat, then their conduct necessarily complies with the Rules of Professional Conduct.  This is a false assumption.  Others believe that an attorney’s “transgressions” in her personal life will not affect her …

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USPTO Reciprocally Excludes Patent Lawyer Based On State Court Disbarment

 On July 15, 2015, the USPTO Director entered an order excluding Richard Polidi from practice before the Office.  The USPTO Director’s disciplinary action came after the Director of the Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED) filed a complaint for reciprocal discipline predicated on Mr. Polidi’s disbarment from State Bar of North Carolina. Based on public documents filed …

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To Err Is Human – But Is It Unethical?

“I made a wrong mistake” – Yogi Berra   Before his sentencing for orchestrating the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history, Bernie Madoff explained to the court he had “made a terrible mistake.”  To borrow a line from my 11-year old daughter: “No duh.” Madoff’s “mistake” led to a 150-year prison sentence. In bar disciplinary …

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USPTO Disbars Attorney For Engaging In Pattern Of Client Neglect, Deceit, And Misappropriation

Never lie, never cheat, never steal. – John Wooden Patent attorney Rodney K. Worrel should have listened to the sage advice of UCLA’s legendary basketball coach. The California-based attorney has been excluded from practice before the USPTO for engaging in a pattern of misconduct that involved multiple acts of neglect, deceit, and conversion of client …

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After Confessing To Ethics Violation, Patent Attorney Disbarred For Commingling And Converting Client Funds

“If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.” – Mark Twain Give patent attorney Stephen Robinson at least a little credit – he was honest about being dishonest. The fact he self-reported his ethical violations to the Kansas Bar was not enough to save his state law license.  In re Stephen R. Robinson, No. 107,311 (Kan. Sup. Ct.). Nor …

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“Super Lawyer” Resigns From USPTO Bar Following Ethics Complaint

Warning to all patent and trademark practitioners—allowing a non-practitioner to “ghost sign” your name on papers filed with the USPTO can be hazardous to your law license. So learned the named partner of a large IP boutique firm who routinely allowed a non-attorney assistant to sign his name on documents filed with the Office. In …

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