Fake Law Firm Misappropriated Practitioners’ Identities To Deceive Inventors: Complaint

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,... Read more →

Intellectual Ventures Prevails In Capital One Antitrust Suit

On Friday, a Maryland federal judge granted summary judgment in favor of Intellectual Ventures on Capital One’s claims that IV’s acquisition and enforcement of patents relating to banking services violated U.S. antitrust law.  In a 53-page memorandum Opinion, Judge Paul W. Grimm found that IV’s conduct in obtaining and enforcing its patents was immune from antitrust liability based on the... Read more →

OED Launches Diversion Program As Alternative To Traditional Attorney Discipline

In a welcome response to the growing epidemic of drug and alcohol abuse among members of the legal profession, the Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED) of the USPTO announced today it has initiated a new disciplinary diversion program that focuses on treatment rather than punishment.  The OED’s Diversion Program, which will initially begin as a two-year “pilot program,” aligns... Read more →

So These Two Lawyers Walk Into A Bar . . . .

What sounds like the start of a joke is no laughing matter–at least not for two White House attorneys. As widely reported last week, Don McGahn and Ty Cobb, President Trump’s lawyers, were overheard at a popular D.C. restaurant discussing/arguing about a highly confidential matter concerning their client: namely how cooperative The White House should be with Robert Mueller’s investigation... Read more →

Breadth Of PTO Ethics Opinion Could Alter How IP Firms Interact With Foreign Associates

This post is the last of a three-part series reviewing how the USPTO interprets and applies its ethics rules to IP practitioners who represent patent and trademark clients through non-practitioner intermediaries. Where Are We Now: Evolution of PTO Ethics Opinions Thirty years ago, the PTO issued (in 1987 and 1988) ethics opinions regarding very discrete questions concerning two aspects of... Read more →

Better Late Than Never: PTO Updates, Expands Ethics Advice On Client Intermediaries

This post is the second in a three-part series reviewing how the USPTO interprets and applies its ethics rules to U.S. patent and trademark practitioners who represent clients by working through non-practitioner client intermediaries. In re Mikhailova and USPTO’s Expanded Ethics Guidance Three decades after the OG Notices, the USPTO published a final order in the matter of In re... Read more →

Are Your Firm’s Foreign Associate Practices Ethical?

It is commonplace for IP law firms in the United States to receive referrals for patent and trademark application filing, prosecution, and related services from sources other than the actual client.  In one of the most common scenarios, patent and trademark services are directed to a U.S. IP law firm through an intermediary, such as a non-U.S. law firm or... Read more →

Portus Drops Subject Matter Conflict Claim Against Kenyon; Alleges Firm’s Prosecution Malpractice Shortened Patent Term By 3+Years

For the past year, Portus Singapore Pte. Ltd. (“Portus”), a former client of the now-defunct Kenyon & Kenyon (“Kenyon”) law firm, has been trying to get a claim for legal malpractice to stick against its former IP counsel.   So far, Portus’ efforts have been unsuccessful.  On July 28, 2017, Portus took its third bite at the apple and filed another... Read more →

Mandatory Ethics Training For Patent Agents Is Long Overdue

What formal ethics training is required of a U.S. patent agent?  None. What minimal level of competency in ethics must a patent agent demonstrate in order to qualify for a license to practice patent law before the USPTO?  Again, the answer is “None.” For attorneys, ethics training is of considerable importance.  It starts in law school.  Accredited law schools require... Read more →

Law, Drugs, Addiction, Death.

The addiction crisis and its impact on the legal profession are the subjects of two recently published articles. The first is The Lawyer, The Addict, published on July 16 in The New York Times (sub. req.).  It is a powerful story written by the ex-wife of a Silicon Valley-based IP partner.  She recounts her former husband’s painful descent from 20... Read more →

Disciplinary Actions Rise Against Lawyers Who Commit Acts of Domestic Violence: Know The Warning Signs

The statistics of reported cases of domestic violence are stunning.  According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), 1 in 3 adult women and 1 in 4 adult men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.  Moreover, 1 in 4 women have been victims of “severe physical violence by an intimate partner” in their... Read more →

Sue-And-Settle NPE Patent Litigation Tactics May Violate USPTO Ethics Rules

Non-practicing entities who engage in a pattern of filing numerous lawsuits without any intention of testing the merits, solely to extract low ball settlements, should take note that the USPTO’s Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED) takes a keen interest in such conduct.  A recent “exceptional case” decision in a patent case from federal court in California should give pause... Read more →

Finnegan Henderson Committed Legal Malpractice By Favoring Marking Blade Inventor Over Corporate Patent Client: Lawsuit

Who is an IP firm’s patent prosecution client when the firm represents a limited liability company and one of its members is the sole inventor?  Does the answer change if the LLC is never actually formed, and no one ever advises the law firm?  Those are just two questions that appear to be at the center of a malpractice lawsuit... Read more →

For Your Eyes Only: IP Atty’s Who Misuse Confidential Documents Face Sanctions, Discipline

Patent and other high technology litigation invariably involves the disclosure of highly confidential technical and financial information.  One of the first orders usually entered in such cases is a protective order, which enables parties to designate and disclose to a limited universe of people what the producing party considers to be confidential information.  Typically, protective orders prohibit the receiving party... Read more →

This Post Could Save Your Patent Law License

Some patent attorneys and agents are under the impression that once they have passed the Patent Bar exam and have earned a PTO registration number, they are essentially registered for life, with no further action required on their part.  If you are one of those people, then you should read on. One of the jobs of the USPTO’s Office of... Read more →

Greenberg Traurig Avoids Former Client’s DQ Motion By Consenting To Withdrawal

Greenberg Traurig has apparently decided that discretion is the better part of valor.  The law firm has agreed voluntarily to withdraw as counsel from a litigation rather than face a disqualification motion in which it was charged with a conflict of interest for trying to invalidate patents it helped prosecute.  We previously reported here that Greenberg Traurig had “switched sides”... Read more →

Atty’s Final Act For Porn Film Copyright Shakedown Scheme: Disbarment

Once upon a time, John Steele, the founder of the law firm formally known as Prenda Law, believed he had found the perfect recipe for a successful niche copyright law practice. First, monitor certain file-sharing websites containing porn and obtain the IP addresses of individuals who downloaded or attempted to download said porn. Next, file “John Doe” lawsuits for copyright... Read more →

Litigators Beware: Bad News Can Trigger USPTO Ethics Investigation

Bad news sells.  As the author Douglas Adams observed, “Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.” Take IP litigation, for example.  The mainstream IP media regularly reports on both allegations and court decisions regarding issues relating to attorney conduct–or alleged misconduct.  Some of the more common... Read more →

Is Mommy More Ethical Than Daddy?

A former female colleague asked me once why nearly all of my clients are men. Frankly, I had never given the matter any thought.  It took me awhile even to accept my colleague’s conclusion that nearly all of my clients were, in fact, of the male variety.  So I pulled out my list of clients I’d represented over the years,... Read more →

To Encrypt, Or Not To Encrypt, That Is The Question

The ABA has dived head first into the pool of law firm cybersecurity.  On May 11, 2017, the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility issued Formal Opinion 477 (here), which addresses a broad range of issues that lawyers must consider to protect client confidential information from “nefarious actors throughout the internet.”  Those “nefarious actors”—also known as... Read more →