Don’t Let The Screen Door Hit You: The Ethics Of Switching Firms

Michael E. McCabe, Jr.Confidentiality, Deceit, IP Ethics, Law Firm Breakups, Patent EthicsLeave a Comment

You are sitting at your desk when the phone rings.  It’s a head hunter. The caller tells you about an amazing opportunity with another firm across town.  That call starts a series of calls and meetings.  Eventually, the new firm offers you a position.  There are, however, two strings attached.  First, the new firm expects you to generate a certain … Read More

Practitioner Beware: Outsourcing Patent Applications May Be Illegal

Michael E. McCabe, Jr.Outsourcing, Patent EthicsLeave a Comment

I am solicited on an almost daily basis by overseas organizations offering deeply-discounted patent application drafting services.  It may very well be that such services, which typically originate from countries where there is an abundant supply of technically-skilled labor, can offer a competitive product at significant cost savings compared to fees charged by U.S. patent practitioners for equivalent services.  Thus, … Read More

PTO Excludes Patent Attorney Who Paid Client To Deep-Six Ethics Complaint

Michael E. McCabe, Jr.Patent Ethics, Prejudicial to administration of justice, Settlement ethicsLeave a Comment

Money can buy many things.  When a lawyer and client have a dispute, such as a client’s claim for legal malpractice, money often can buy “peace.”  And when clients and their lawyers settle such a  dispute, it is common for the parties to agree by contract to dismiss—or refrain from filing—a civil complaint. But a lawyer’s ability to buy peace … Read More

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

Michael E. McCabe, Jr.Communications, Competence, Conflicts of Interest, Patent Ethics, PTO Ethics Rules, Unauthorized Practice of LawLeave a Comment

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

Michael E. McCabe, Jr.Communications, Competence, Conflicts of Interest, Invention Promoters, Office of Enrollment and Discipline, Patent Ethics, PTO Ethics Decisions, Unauthorized Practice of LawLeave a Comment

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?

Michael E. McCabe, Jr.Communications, Competence, Conflicts of Interest, IP Ethics, Office of Enrollment and Discipline, Patent Ethics1 Comment

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

Mandatory Ethics Training For Patent Agents Is Long Overdue

Michael E. McCabe, Jr.ABA Model Rule for Minimum Continuing Legal Education, Continuing Legal Education, Patent Ethics, USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct4 Comments

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

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

Michael E. McCabe, Jr.Litigation Ethics, Office of Enrollment and Discipline, Patent Ethics, Patent Litigation Ethics, USPTO Ethics Investigation5 Comments

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