USPTO Disciplinary Decision search engine.

Why this Page?
The disciplinary decisions of the USPTO are posted in the Office of Enrollment and Discipline’s (OED’s) so-called “FOIA Reading Room.” The only readily-discernible information one can glean from the “Reading Room” is the name of the practitioner involved, the proceeding number, and the decision date. If a reader wants to know more about any of the decisions posted in the Reading Room, or to categorize decisions, then they must manually open each PDF file and read the entire decision. This can be a frustrating and time-consuming endeavor.

I created this Page as a tool for electronically conducting a filtered search of the raw data (PDF files) contained in the OED Reading Room. In addition, I created this Page to give readers an easy-to-read digest and summary of the Reading Room-posted decisions without having to go through the trouble of mining this information from the raw PDF source documents.

How it Works
The way this Page works is simple. When you get to the end of this introduction section, you will see a filters’ box. USPTO disciplinary decisions can be searched using up to three different filtering mechanisms: (1) the type of conduct that led to discipline (e.g., neglect, misrepresentations, etc.); (2) the procedural mechanism utilized in reaching the decision (e.g. a trial, a settlement, reciprocal discipline, etc.); and (3) the punishment imposed (e.g., a reprimand, a suspension of short, medium, or long duration, exclusion, etc.). So, for example, if you want to see all of the USPTO disciplinary decisions that resulted in a suspension of less than six months and were the result of a settlement agreement, simply check the corresponding boxes in the “procedures” and “punishment” filters to make your selections. Or if you want to see all decisions that involved practitioner misrepresentations, simply check that box in the “category” filter. The results of any filtered search will be displayed in reverse chronological order. If no filter is used to narrow the scope of a search, then all of the USPTO disciplinary decisions that have to date been digested will be listed in reverse chronological order.

Work in Progress
One major caveat: to date, we have digested and implemented the filtering mechanism for all USPTO disciplinary decisions published since January 1, 2016. This Page is a living, breathing tool. We intend regularly to update our digests to reach back to decisions from 2015, 2014, and earlier. Please bear with me; there are a lot of decisions! Eventually, though, we hope to have all of the USPTO’s disciplinary decisions digested and categorized. In the meantime, I hope you find this new search engine useful in your practice.

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Found 42 Results
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In re Jeffrey R. Ramberg, Proc. No. D2017-12 (USPTO Dir. Feb. 14, 2017)


Disposition: Public reprimand and requirement that the practitioner retake the Model Professional Responsibility (MPRE) exam and attend two CLE course pertaining to conflicts of interest.  See decision here. Summary: A patent practitioner who failed to recognize that he had entered into an attorney-client relationship with a co-inventor of a patent entered into a settlement agreement pursuant to which he agreed to be … Read More

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February 14, 2017


In re David J. Mahalek, Proc. No. D2016-31 (USPTO Dir. Jan. 27, 2017)


Disposition:  Eighteen (18)-month suspension of patent attorney, pursuant to settlement agreement, arising from misconduct during course of litigation in which two patents were found to have been procured by inequitable conduct.  Final decision here. Summary:  A patent attorney was charged with ethical misconduct arising from his representation in two patent infringement litigations. The attorney was counsel with other attorneys who … Read More

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January 27, 2017


In re Matthew Swyers, Proc. No. D2016-20 (USPTO Dir. Jan. 26, 2017)


Disposition:  Exclusion on consent.  Final decision here. Summary:  A trademark practitioner was excluded on consent by the USPTO.  Previously, the practitioner had been the subject of a lengthy ethics investigation, which resulted in him filing a lawsuit in federal court to enjoin the investigation for allegedly violating his Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights.  The practitioner’s federal lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice for … Read More

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January 26, 2017


In re Kristofer Halvorson, Proc. No. D2017-01 (Jan. 10, 2017)


Disposition: Six (6) month and one (1)-day suspension predicated upon identical discipline imposed by the Supreme Court of Arizona.  Final decision here. Summary: A patent attorney received a six (6) month and one (1)-day suspension as reciprocal discipline arising from discipline imposed in Arizona, in which he was found to have engaged to have neglected to prosecute a client’s patent application, … Read More

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January 10, 2017


In re Kara Jane Jensen Zitnick, Proc. No. D2016-24 (USPTO Dir. Dec. 7, 2016)


Disposition: Reciprocal sixty (60)-day suspension and two (2)-year period of probation after reinstatement, which was unopposed by practitioner and which was predicated upon identical discipline imposed by the Supreme Court of Minnesota.  Final decision here. Procedure: Reciprocal discipline pursuant to 37 C.F.R. § 11.24. Related Case: In re Kara Jensen Zitnick, Case No. A15-0743 (Minn. Dec. 16, 2015) Related to USPTO Practice? … Read More

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December 7, 2016


In re John Anthony Franczyk, Proc. No. D2016-22 (USPTO Dir. Dec. 5, 2016)


Disposition:  One-year suspension predicated upon identical discipline imposed by the Supreme Court of Illinois.  Final decision here. Summary:  A patent practitioner was suspended by the USPTO for one year as reciprocal discipline arising from upon a one-year suspension imposed by the Supreme Court of Illinois for failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client, failing to … Read More

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December 5, 2016


In re Sanjeev Kumar Dhand, D2016-17 (USPTO Dir. Nov. 16, 2016)


Disposition: One (1)-year suspension, fully stayed, and one (1)-year probation commencing on the date of the USPTO’s order, predicated upon identical discipline imposed by the Supreme Court of California. The USPTO Director rejected the practitioner’s request for nunc pro tunc treatment of probation term.  Final decision here. Summary: A patent attorney received a one (1)-year fully-stayed suspension plus one (1)-year … Read More

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November 16, 2016


In re Joseph C. Terzo, Proc. No. D2016-35 (USPTO Dir. Nov. 2, 2016)


Disposition: Exclusion on consent from practice before the USPTO arising from numerous ethics violations in handling multiple USPTO client matters.  Final decision here. Summary: A patent and trademark practitioner was excluded on consent following numerous allegations for ethical misconduct. The practitioner was charged with violating, inter alia, the USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct proscribing failure to provide competent representation, failure … Read More

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November 2, 2016


In re Kristofer E. Halvorson, Proc. No. D2016-33 (USPTO Dir. Oct. 12, 2016)


Disposition: ALJ’s initial decision recommending entry of default judgment and practitioner’s exclusion from practice before the USPTO became final Agency decision as a matter of law.  Final decision here. Summary: A patent attorney was charged with multiple counts of ethical misconduct arising from his inactions and failure to communicate with clients in multiple patent and trademark prosecution matters, his misleading … Read More

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October 12, 2016


In re Jeffrey L. Hefner, D2016-36 (USPTO Dir. Oct. 12, 2016)


Disposition: Interim suspension from practice before the USPTO imposed on practitioner who pled no contest in California state court to charges of felony possession of a controlled substance.  Final decision here. Summary: A patent practitioner entered a plea of no contest in California state court to a charge of felony possession of a controlled substance. Under the USPTO rules, a plea … Read More

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In re Robert R. Lech, No. D2016-34 (USPTO Dir. Oct. 3, 2016)


Disposition: Ninety (90)-day suspension from practice before the USPTO, followed by a two (2)-year period of probation after reinstatement and the requirement that the practitioner complete five (5) hours of CLE in law practice management.  Final decision here. Summary: The USPTO Director entered a settlement agreement suspending a patent practitioner pursuant to 37 C.F.R. § 11.26 for ninety (90) days … Read More

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October 3, 2016


In re Charlena L. Thorpe, No. D2016-26 (USPTO Dir. Sept. 7, 2016)


Disposition: Public reprimand and requirement that the practitioner attend a CLE seminar on law practice management.  See decision here. Summary: A patent practitioner who failed to adequately communicate with a patent applicant client entered into a settlement agreement pursuant to which she agreed to be publicly reprimanded. In particular, the practitioner represented a client in the preparation of a nonprovisional patent application … Read More

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September 7, 2016


In re Karl L. Larson, No. D2016-36 (USPTO Dir. Sept. 1, 2016)


Disposition: Ninety (90)-day suspension from practice before the USPTO, with requirement that practitioner complete ten (10) hours of continuing legal education in trust accounting and law practice management.  See decision here.  Procedure: Settlement pursuant to 37 C.F.R. § 11.26 Related to USPTO Practice? Yes Misconduct: Unintentional financial misconduct. Summary: The USPTO Director entered a settlement agreement suspending a patent practitioner for … Read More

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September 1, 2016


In re Jeffrey L. Hefner, D2016-21 (USPTO Dir. Aug. 11, 2016)


Disposition: Interim suspension from practice before the USPTO predicated upon practitioner’s conviction in Illinois state court of felony possession of methamphetamine.   Final decision here. Summary: A patent practitioner was convicted in Illinois state court of felony possession of methamphetamine. Pursuant to 37 C.F.R. § 11.25, the OED Director determined, and the USPTO Director agreed, that interim suspension was warranted based … Read More

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August 11, 2016


In re Chelsea L. Davis, D2016-25 (USPTO Dir. Aug. 9, 2016)


Disposition: Reciprocal transfer to disability inactive status predicated on transfer to disability inactive status in Texas. The transfer was not opposed by the practitioner.  Final decision here. Summary: A patent attorney was transferred to disciplinary inactive status in Texas. Pursuant to 37 C.F.R. § 11.29, the USPTO Director ordered the practitioner to be reciprocally transferred to disciplinary inactive status in … Read More

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August 9, 2016


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