An ethics blog for IP attorneys

Mass. Sup. Ct. Schedules Oral Argument on Subject Matter Conflicts in Patent Prosecution

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | February 27, 2015

How close is too close?  That is a question that has perplexed patent attorneys who prepare and prosecute patent applications for multiple clients in the same, or similar, fields of technology.  At least one state appeals court has decided to take this question head on. As previously reported in our January 2, 2015, posting, the Justices of […]

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Patent Attorney Disbarred For Attempting To Extort Fees From Former Law Firm

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | February 22, 2015

On December 31, 2014, the USPTO Director issued an Order of Reciprocal Discipline excluding a Bellevue, Washington patent attorney from practicing before the Office. Former patent attorney Jeffrey T. Haley’s exclusion followed his voluntary resignation from the State Bar of Washington, where he had been charged with attempted extortion from his former law firm. The Compensation […]

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To Err Is Human – But Is It Unethical?

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | January 8, 2015

“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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Massachusetts Supreme Court To Tackle Thorny Issue Of Subject Matter Conflicts In Patent Prosecution

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | January 2, 2015

On December 26, 2014, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts issued the following Announcement in an appeal pending before the court: ANNOUNCEMENT: The Justices are soliciting amicus briefs. Whether, under Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.7, an actionable conflict of interest arose when, according to the allegations in the complaint, attorneys in different offices of the […]

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

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | December 17, 2014

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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IP Ethics – Upcoming CLE Event

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | December 7, 2014

On Wednesday, December 10, 2014, the New Jersey Intellectual Property Law Association (NJIPLA) will hold its first ever seminar dedicated exclusively to ethical issues in the practice of intellectual property law.  The half-day program, entitled Ethics in IP, will feature speakers covering a range of ethics topics specifically tailored for the IP practitioner.  Whether your practice is litigation, prosecution, or counseling, […]

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

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | December 1, 2014

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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Sony Alleges Conflict Of Interest, Wants Acacia In-House And Outside Patent Litigation Counsel DQ’d

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | November 24, 2014

Motions to disqualify opposing counsel are not uncommon, especially in patent litigation. In many cases, disqualification is sought based on an alleged former client conflict of interest. Former client disqualification motions normally allege that an attorney working in the law firm representing one of the parties to a litigation previously represented the opposing party in […]

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IP Law Firm Pushes Back Against Lawsuit Alleging It Fraudulently Procured Confidential Inventions

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | November 23, 2014

Intellectual property law firm Kilpatrick Townsend is fighting back against accusations in a recent complaint accusing the firm and its client, Omnicell, Inc., of conspiring to fraudulently obtain confidential information about a third-party’s inventions and then using that information to acquire patents for Omnicell naming only an Omnicell employee as the inventor. MV Circuit Design, Inc. v. Omnicell, Inc., et al., No. 1:14-cv-02028-DAP (Sept. 12, 2014 N.D. […]

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Fired Trademark Attorney And Husband Arrested For Stabbing Law Firm Managing Partner

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | November 14, 2014

Job counselors always seem to be full of advice for people who are fired from their jobs.  “Go out gracefully” and “don’t burn bridges” are common suggestions for the newly-unemployed. Recently-fired intellectual property attorney Alecia Schmuhl might have benefitted from such words of wisdom.  Instead, she sits in a jail cell charged with malicious wounding and abduction while her victims–the managing […]

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