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An ethics blog for IP attorneys

USPTO Requires Patent Bar Applicants To Disclose Expunged Or Diverted Criminal Records

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | February 12, 2020

While in college, Joe Varsity is arrested for public intoxication. Joe pleads no contest, and the charge is dismissed after he completes an alcohol education class. Joe’s conviction is later expunged (or erased). Under the laws where Joe’s arrest occurred, “any person who shall have been the subject of such an erasure shall be deemed […]

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Avoiding USPTO Discipline: Five Recommendations for IP Practitioners

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | July 11, 2019

The USPTO’s Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED) exists, in large part, to ensure that patent and trademark practitioner are practicing ethically and in accordance with the Office’s Rules of Professional Conduct.  The OED’s staff includes a dozen attorneys, many of whom have practical experience in the area of IP law.  Whether you have been […]

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Varsity Blues: What Bar Discipline Lies Ahead For Lawyer In College Admissions Scandal

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | March 12, 2019

The co-chair of Willkie Farr, Gordon Caplan, was named today in an unsealed federal indictment. The result of an FBI investigation dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues,” Caplan, as well as dozens of other well-to-do parents, was involved in what the U.S. Attorney’s Office calls a “nationwide conspiracy that facilitated cheating on college entrance exams and the […]

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Loose Lips Sink Attorney Secrets

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | March 11, 2019

I was on a long flight recently and had the misfortune of sitting behind two lawyers for several hours.  For almost the entire duration of the flight, the attorneys were involved in a detailed discussion about what was obvious (to me anyway) to be a client matter.  They were discussing an upcoming deposition, strategical issues, […]

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Attorney-Client Sex: A Bad Idea That’s Also Unethical

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | March 6, 2019

For decades, regulators and courts have ruled that sex with a client during the course of the professional relationship is unethical. Nonetheless, lawyers continue to flout precedent and are frequently disciplined for engaging in sexual relations with their clients. Some cases of impermissible attorney-client sex are no brainers–such as the attorney who insists on a […]

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

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | February 27, 2019

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

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | February 26, 2019

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

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | February 18, 2019

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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Patent Prosecution Malpractice: Minimizing the Risk of Claims

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | February 14, 2019

Malpractice in patent prosecution can be an expensive (very expensive) and time-consuming proposition. Defense costs alone can run well into the seven figures. No patent prosecutor or law firm wants to face that kind of exposure. On February 21, 2019, I will be presenting a 90-minute CLE webinar hosted by Strafford on best practices for […]

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FAQs For IP Practitioners Who Receive A Request For Information and Evidence Under 37 CFR 11.22(f) From USPTO/OED

By Michael E. McCabe, Jr. | October 8, 2018

I am frequently contacted by patent and trademark practitioners who have been served with a “Request for Information and Evidence Under 37 C.F.R. 11.22(f)” from the Director of the Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED) of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO).   In Fiscal Year 2018, the OED Director issued over 100 such “Requests” […]

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