In re Jerry A. Schulman, Proc. No. D2016-02 (USPTO Dir. Apr. 13, 2016)

Michael E. McCabe, Jr.Misrepresentation, Neglect, USPTO

Disposition: Two (2)-year suspension from practice before the USPTO.  Final decision here.

Summary: Over the course of ten (10) years, an IP practitioner allowed numerous patent and trademark applications to go unintentionally abandoned for multiple clients without their knowledge or consent, failed to communicate with his clients, and misrepresented the status of two (2) clients’ patent applications. The USPTO Director approved a settlement agreement pursuant to which the practitioner agreed to a two (2)-year suspension from practice before the USPTO for violating 37 C.F.R. §§ 10.23(a) and (b) via 10.23(c)(8) (proscribing failure to advise a client of important Office correspondence); 10.23(b)(4) (proscribing conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation); 10.23(a) and (b) via 10.23(c)(2)(i) (proscribing knowingly giving false or misleading information to a client in connection with business before the Office; 10.77(c) (proscribing neglect of legal matters entrusted to a practitioner); 10.84(a)(1) (proscribing failing to seek the lawful objectives of the client and prejudicing or damaging a client during the course of a professional relationship); 11.101 and 11.103 (failure to provide competent representation and to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client); 1l.104(a)(2) and (a)(3) (failure to reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client’s objectives are to be accomplished and failure to keep the client reasonably informed about the status of a matter); and 11.804( c) (engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation).

Facts: This matter arises from a patent and trademark practitioner’s mishandling of multiple client patent and trademark matters. Jerry Schulman, a member of the patent bar for forty (40) years, allowed applications before the USPTO to go unintentionally abandoned without his clients’ knowledge or consent. He also failed to advise the clients about important USPTO correspondence and did not respond to client inquiries about the status of their applications.

With respect to one client in particular, Mr. Schulman filed seventeen (17) patent applications and nineteen (19) trademark applications. He neglected those applications, failed to inform his client of important Office correspondence regarding the applications, failed to timely respond to Office communications, allowed the patent and trademark applications to become abandoned without the client’s knowledge or consent, did not inform the client of the abandonments, and misrepresented to the client the status of several of the patent applications.

It is unclear why this conduct occurred. The settlement, however, stated that Mr. Schulman had no prior disciplinary history before the Office during the forty years he had been registered as a patent practitioner. In addition, he expressed remorse, attempted to mitigate the harm to his clients by reviving some patent applications