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

Michael E. McCabe, Jr.Fail to Communicate, Neglect, USPTO

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, failed to communicate with the client, allowed the patent application to go abandoned without client consent, and failed to return unearned fees from his client for legal work that he did not perform. The attorney failed to respond to the USPTO Director’s notice and order pursuant to 37 C.F.R. Section 11.24(a), and thus, the Director imposed identical discipline to that imposed by the Supreme Court of Arizona.

Related Case:  In re Halvorson, PDJ-2016-9006 (Feb. 5, 2016)

Related to USPTO Practice? Yes

Facts: This matter involved Arizona-based patent attorney Kristofer Halvorson.  Mr. Halvorson has a history of discipline both before the USPTO and in Arizona.

As we reported here, Mr. Halvoson was excluded from practice before the USPTO.  His record before the Arizona Bar also included a summary suspension in 2015 for failure to comply with mandatory CLE requirements and a one-year suspension effective April 10, 2015 in a matter captioned In re Halvorson, PDJ-2015-9001, for violating numerous ethics rules of the Arizona State Bar.

This reciprocal disciplinary proceeding arose from yet another disciplinary matter filed against Mr. Halvorson in Arizona.  According to the complaint filed in Arizona, in 2012, a client paid Mr. Halvorson  Seven Hundred Fifty Dollars ($750.00) to begin the initial process of obtaining a certain patent. By September 24, 2012, the client paid Two Thousand Eight Hundred Ninety Five Dollars ($2,895.00) for all legal services to obtain the patent.

Mr. Halvorson applied with the USPTO (application s/n 13/573,553).  Mr. Halvorson, however, consistently failed to respond to any of his client’s phone calls or emails regarding the status of the application during the next year.  The client attempted to determine the status of the application and in doing so, learned that Mr. Halvorson abandoned his office and had his phone number disconnected. The lawyer consistently failed to respond to any of his client’s phone calls or emails.

In or around January 2015, the client located Mr. Halvorson and requested information and documents regarding the application. While the client lives in Minnesota, she agreed to meet Mr. Halvorson in Phoenix to retrieve her paperwork.  The attorney failed to appear at the scheduled meeting.

On or about September 15, 2015, the client’s successor counsel discovered that the application  became abandoned on August 7, 2013, and that the USPTO filed a Notice of Abandonment on December 17, 2013.

On or about September 15, 2015, the client paid successor counsel Seven Hundred Fifty Dollars ($750.00) for the legal fees to revive the abandoned application and obtain the patent. Mr. Halvorson subsequently ignored the State Bar’s investigatory letters.  He was ultimately found to have violated numerous Arizona ethics rules.

On January 10, 2016, the USPTO Director issued its Order imposing reciprocal discipline pursuant to 37 C.F.R. § 11.24.