From its website, “Intelligent Patent Services, LLC” (or IPS) appeared to have all of the trappings of a legitimate patent law firm. The website included lots of content to back its self-proclaimed status as a “Patent Law Firm.” The website boasted of supposed connections with legitimate organizations, claiming its co-founders worked for Stanford University’s Office of Technology Licensing.
Dak Steiert, the CEO of Intelligent Patent Services, was not shy about promoting his own supposed expertise either. The IPS website stated Mr. Steiert is a registered U.S. patent attorney and included “infomercials” featuring Mr. Steiert describing various IPS patent legal services.
To an outsider, Intelligent Patent Services appeared to be a legitimate patent law firm with a deep bench of patent legal and licensing expertise.
All is not as it appears, however, at least according to a recent complaint filed in Colorado. On September 11, 2017, disciplinary counsel in Colorado filed a Petition for Injunction against Intelligent Patent Services and Mr. Steiert (Petition for Injunction).
The Petition alleges that Steiert and IPS advertise on a website as “Patent Attorneys You Can Trust”, http:I/www .patent-attorney. tv/Attorney/Utility-Patent-Attorney.htmi. The website promised it had “Registered Patent Attorneys all with 5-20 years experience.” The website further stated: “We’re here to be more than patent attorneys —we’re here to be in your corner, to fight for you, and to make sure your invention gets protected and stays yours!”
The Petition alleges that the IPS website quoted flat rates from $2,700 to $5,300. For this fee, IPS and Steiert agreed to conduct a patent search and craft an application that will lead to the patent being issued. They promised their work is of the highest quality: “Our work is the best available because our patents are drafted entirely by patent attorneys with at least 5 years experience. … If you would like, you can request one of our attorneys who used to work for the USPTO examining patents.”
The Petition states that Mr. Steiert, is not a lawyer or patent agent, despite contrary assertions on the website. Furthermore, IPS allegedly used the names and backgrounds of real patent attorneys and patent agents on its website. At least some of those agents and attorneys deny having consented to the use of their names and biographies on Intelligent Patent Services’ website.
The Petition further alleges that a particular client contacted IPS and was told by Mr. Steiert that the firm had “an office with many lawyers.” The Petition cited multiple instances in which Mr. Steiert allegedly drafted inventor patent applications and other papers himself, and those papers were then returned to the inventor for filing in the USPTO. On certain occasions, the IPS firm outsourced the patent application work to real outside attorneys or patent agents, who were then instructed by IPS not to contact the inventor directly.
According to a source, Steiert signed client engagement agreements on behalf of IPS with individual inventors. In at least one such engagement agreement, Steiert represented that the client’s patent application would be handled by one of the “members” of IPS; that individual had no notice of or knowledge about the client, the matter, or the engagement agreement, and the attorney was never contacted about providing any legal services for this client.
The Petition further states that inventors were harmed by paying IPS and Steiert for patent services they were not qualified to provide. The Petition accuses Mr. Steiert of engaging in the unauthorized practice of law by, among other things, drafting patent claims, providing advice about USPTO procedures, drafting amendments and office action responses, and in at least one case forging an inventor’s signature on an amendment filed with USPTO.
The Petition requests an order to show cause why the Colorado Supreme Court should not issue an injunction to prohibit IPS and Steiert from engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, as well as an order to pay restitution and a fine of between $250 to $1,000 “for each incident of unauthorized practice of law.”
Current Status of Proceedings
On September 18, 2017, the Colorado Supreme Court issued an “Order to Show Cause.” Mr. Steiert responded to the Show Cause Order on November 14, 2017 (Answer to Petition).
In his response, Mr. Steiert denies engaging in any wrongdoing and alleges he never filed any USPTO papers on behalf of any client. Furthermore, Mr. Steiert claims he continuously retained “contract attorneys” to do the work on behalf of inventors. He denied doing any client patent work himself.
Mr. Steiert recently filed a motion to dismiss the Petition, arguing the Colorado Supreme Court lacks personal and subject matter jurisdiction. Briefing on Mr. Steiert’s jurisdictional motion is underway.
IPS Disappears (For Now)
Based on information independently obtained, IPS is not a real law firm. Furthermore, sources confirm that at least some of the patent lawyers and patent agents whose names appeared at one time on the IPS “firm’s” website had no idea that they were being held out to the public in that way, and they have denied the claim that Steiert or Intelligent Patent Services either asked for or received permission to use their identities.
In the case of at least one such attorney, counsel in Colorado sent Steiert a cease and desist letter to prohibit IPS from using the attorney’s name on the IPS website. That seemed to work, for a little while, but then without notice the attorney’s name reappeared on the website.
Sources also say that the two female “co-founders” of IPS, identified on the website as Debbie Kwon and Lisa Primiano, were unaware of Steiert’s activities and did not apparently know they were been held out as “founders” of Intelligent Patent Services.
Recent attempts to access IPS’s website via multiple URLs associated with that entity have failed. See http://www.expertpatentlaw.com/about.html; http://www.us-patent-search.us/about.html; and http://www.patent-attorney.tv/about.html. Furthermore, historical snapshots of Intelligent Patent Services’ website, which were until the last couple of weeks available in archived form on The Wayback Machine, have been removed. It is unclear who requested the removal of those records from The Wayback Machine.
The case is captioned, People of the State of Colorado v. Dak Steiert, aka Dak Steirt and Intelligent Patent Services, LLC, No. 2017SA214 (Col. Sept. 11, 2017)