In re Mark A. Hopkins, Proc. No. D2015-31 (USPTO Dir. Jan. 12, 2016)

Michael E. McCabe, Jr.Criminal, USPTO

Disposition: Exclusion from practice before the USPTO with right to apply for reinstatement after three (3) years, which was unopposed by practitioner, and which was predicated upon identical discipline imposed by the Supreme Court of Illinois.  Final decision here.

Summary: A patent attorney was reciprocally excluded from the USPTO following his federal conviction on charges he used his attorney trust account as part of a conspiracy to commit money laundering. The attorney received a twenty-two (22)-month prison sentence and consented to his disbarment from the Supreme Court of Illinois. The attorney failed to oppose the USPTO Director’s order to show cause why identical discipline should not be imposed by the USPTO.

Related Case: In re Mark A. Hopkins, Proc. No. M.R. 27241 (Ill. Mar. 12, 2015)

Related to USPTO Practice?  No

Facts: This action arose from patent attorney Mark Hopkins’ conviction in federal court of conspiracy to commit crimes involving money laundering. Specifically, Mr. Hopkins engaged in a scheme with two other individuals to conduct financial transactions using Mr. Hopkins’s client trust account to launder a total of approximately $3,100,000.00.

By way of example, the indictment against Mr. Hopkins alleged that in 2009, he allowed the wire transfer of approximately $500,000 into his attorney trust account in Illinois from a Bahamian account. Hopkins, the next day, wired the bulk of these proceeds into the bank accounts of his co-conspirators. Mr. Hopkins ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and was sentenced in October 2014 to serve twenty-two (22) months in prison.

In March, 2015, the Supreme Court of Illinois granted Mr. Hopkins’s motion to be disbarred on consent from the practice of law in Illinois arising from his conviction. In re Mark A. Hopkins, Proc. No. M.R. 27241 (Ill. Mar. 12, 2015). The Supreme Court of Illinois found that Mr. Hopkins engaged in committing criminal acts that reflect adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, as well as conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, by conspiring to commit money laundering in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371.

The USPTO subsequently filed a reciprocal disciplinary proceeding. On January 12, 2016, the USPTO Director ordered that Mr. Hopkins be excluded from practice before the USPTO in patent, trademark, and other non-patent matters for violating 37 C.F.R. § 11.804(h), predicated upon his being disbarred on consent from the practice of law by a duly constituted authority of a State. In re Mark A. Hopkins, Proc. No. D2015-31 (USPTO Dir. Jan. 12, 2016).

Normally an excluded practitioner may not apply for reinstatement with the USPTO until they have complied with all of the requirements of a suspended practitioner for no less than five (5) years. Because this was a reciprocal disciplinary matter, however, and consistent with the sanction imposed by the Supreme Court of Illinois, the USPTO ordered that Mr. Hopkins had the right to file a petition seeking reinstatement under 37 C.F.R. § 11.60 three (3) years after he complied with all of the requirements of a suspended practitioner.