Mixing Inventor And Patent Prosecutor Intent To Deceive: CleanTech Muddies Inequitable Conduct Law

Inequitable conduct is supposed to be personal to each individual who owes a duty of disclosure to the USPTO. Thus, just because an inventor may have knowingly and intentionally lied to the USPTO does not mean that prosecution counsel did so as well. Indeed, most prosecutors are in a position where they must rely upon the apparent veracity of their... Read more →

Quoted in Law360: “$32M Dentons Verdict Could Put Vereins In The Crosshairs”

On February 25, 2020, Michael E. McCabe, Jr. was quoted in Law360 (including the lead story in IP360 and Legal Ethics360), in an article entitled “$32M Dentons Verdict Could Put Vereins in the Crosshairs“ by Aebra Coe. The Law360 article addresses the ethical risks of the Swiss verein structure as it relates to conflicts of interest. The case involved a... Read more →

The Curious Case of the Twerking BigLaw Attorney

From the now-I’ve-heard-everything category, there is this: A plaintiff in a federal action claims that during the course of a mediation of her employment discrimination case, counsel for the defense–a partner with a major international law firm– allegedly “shook his butt” at plaintiff’s counsel while uttering profanity. Plaintiff demands sanctions of $7,000 for the alleged, er, exposure. For its part,... Read more →

USPTO Requires Patent Bar Applicants To Disclose Expunged Or Diverted Criminal Records

While in college, Joe Varsity is arrested for public intoxication. Joe pleads no contest, and the charge is dismissed after he completes an alcohol education class. Joe’s conviction is later expunged (or erased). Under the laws where Joe’s arrest occurred, “any person who shall have been the subject of such an erasure shall be deemed to have never been arrested... Read more →

Avoiding USPTO Discipline: Five Recommendations for IP Practitioners

The USPTO’s Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED) exists, in large part, to ensure that patent and trademark practitioner are practicing ethically and in accordance with the Office’s Rules of Professional Conduct.  The OED’s staff includes a dozen attorneys, many of whom have practical experience in the area of IP law.  Whether you have been practicing law for many years... Read more →

Varsity Blues: What Bar Discipline Lies Ahead For Lawyer In College Admissions Scandal

The co-chair of Willkie Farr, Gordon Caplan, was named today in an unsealed federal indictment. The result of an FBI investigation dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues,” Caplan, as well as dozens of other well-to-do parents, was involved in what the U.S. Attorney’s Office calls a “nationwide conspiracy that facilitated cheating on college entrance exams and the admission of students to elite... Read more →

Loose Lips Sink Attorney Secrets

I was on a long flight recently and had the misfortune of sitting behind two lawyers for several hours.  For almost the entire duration of the flight, the attorneys were involved in a detailed discussion about what was obvious (to me anyway) to be a client matter.  They were discussing an upcoming deposition, strategical issues, and client communications.  And they... Read more →

Attorney-Client Sex: A Bad Idea That’s Also Unethical

For decades, regulators and courts have ruled that sex with a client during the course of the professional relationship is unethical. Nonetheless, lawyers continue to flout precedent and are frequently disciplined for engaging in sexual relations with their clients. Some cases of impermissible attorney-client sex are no brainers–such as the attorney who insists on a “legal services-for-sexual services” fee arrangement.... Read more →

Federal Court DQs Law Firm in Patent Infringement Case, Rejecting Advance Conflict Waiver

A federal court in Alabama yesterday disqualified a law firm from representing a new client in a patent infringement case against a current firm client. In Southern Visions, LLP v. Red Diamond, Inc. (N.D. Ala. Feb. 26, 2019), the court held that Bradley Arant Boult Cummings (“Bradley”) was ethically barred from representing one client (Southern Visions) against another client (Red... Read more →

All In The Family: The Tricky Ethics Of Corporate Affiliate Conflicts

If you represent a corporation, do you represent all entities in the corporate family? For example, if you represent a parent company, does that mean you also represent the parent’s subsidiaries? Does it matter if a subsidiary is wholly-owned vs. partially owned? How about if you represent a subsidiary–does that mean you also represent its parent or grandparent entity in... Read more →

Colorado Supreme Court Shuts Down Sham “Expert” Patent Law Firm

On February 6, 2019, the Colorado Supreme Court shuttered a Colorado business, which once billed itself as an “expert patent law” firm, and its owner, for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. According to the Court’s order (here), Intelligent Patent Services, LLC (IPS) and its non-lawyer owner, Dak Steiert, are enjoined from engaging in the unauthorized practice of law... Read more →

Patent Prosecution Malpractice: Minimizing the Risk of Claims

Malpractice in patent prosecution can be an expensive (very expensive) and time-consuming proposition. Defense costs alone can run well into the seven figures. No patent prosecutor or law firm wants to face that kind of exposure. On February 21, 2019, I will be presenting a 90-minute CLE webinar hosted by Strafford on best practices for minimizing the risks of being... Read more →

FAQs For IP Practitioners Who Receive A Request For Information and Evidence Under 37 CFR 11.22(f) From USPTO/OED

I am frequently contacted by patent and trademark practitioners who have been served with a “Request for Information and Evidence Under 37 C.F.R. 11.22(f)” from the Director of the Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED) of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO).   In Fiscal Year 2018, the OED Director issued over 100 such “Requests” (also referred to as “RFIs”). ... Read more →

OED Investigates TM Attys Who File Altered Or Fake Specimens: The China Syndrome

What does the Chinese government’s decision to pay its citizens to apply for and register trademarks with the USPTO have to do with IP attorney ethics?   Plenty, as it turns out. As recently reported by the American Bar Association, see article doctored-trademark-specimen, the USPTO is experiencing “a plague of fake, doctored and digitally altered specimens” filed with new Section 1(a)... Read more →

Leaving South Tahoe: Will Your Advance Conflict Waiver Survive Sheppard Mullin v. J-M Manufacturing?

On Friday, August 30, 2018, the California Supreme Court ruled that a blanket advanced conflict waiver signed by two current clients, which purported to authorize lawyers from Sheppard Mullin to accept an unrelated representation of one client adverse to another, was void against public policy because the firm failed to obtain informed consent.  Even though the engagement agreement was legally... Read more →

ABA Approves Changes To Attorney Advertising Ethics Rules

The American Bar Association’s House of Delegates approved on Monday an overhaul to its ethics rules governing attorney advertising and solicitation.  The ABA vote on Monday capped a four-year effort to modernize ethics rules promulgated in the 1980s–long before the Internet forever changed how lawyers market their services and communicate with prospective clients. The ABA’s vote was spurred on by... Read more →

Ethical Considerations for Young Lawyers

Many situations arise in the work place where young lawyers find themselves facing real ethical dilemmas. For example, your supervisor has asked you to do something that you believe may violate the Rules of Professional Conduct.   Or you become aware that another lawyer has engaged in conduct already that may be unethical.  Or a close friend or family member has... Read more →