False Statements to CAFC Lead to Attorney Discipline

Each year, PLI holds its annual Patent Litigation seminar. I will be speaking at the New York Patent Litigation 2014 program, which will take place from November 10-11, 2014. There will be an earlier presentation of the program in Chicago, IL, from October 6-7, 2014. In addition to discussing the relatively new ethics rules applicable to patent attorneys, I will discuss a variety of ethics decisions from the Office of Enrollment and Discipline at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

In one particular enforcement decision that I will discuss during my presentation — In the Matter of James Hicks — the Office of Enrollment and Discipline instituted an enforcement proceeding against James Hicks, who is an attorney admitted to practice in the State of California. Although Hicks is not a patent attorney duly admitted to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, he had been permitted to practice before the Office in trademark and other non-patent matters, as can any attorney admitted to practice.

Hicks, a litigator, was alleged to have engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. In Rates Technology, Inc. v. Mediatrix Telecom, Inc., No. 05-CV-2755, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York entered an order sanctioning him and his client for failing to comply with the court’s discovery orders. Indeed, the abuses were such that the district court ultimately dismissed the case and imposed monetary sanctions against Mr. Hicks and Rate Technology in the amount of $86,965.81, to be split evenly between them.


Patent Practitioner Discipline

USPTOOver the last several years, I have given the ethics lecture part of PLI’s Patent Law Institute, which grants those in attendance (or viewing via webcast, in most states) one ethics credit toward CLE compliance. This year, I will once again give the ethics presentation at the 8th Annual Patent Law Institute sponsored by the Practising Law Institute, which will take place in New York at the beginning of February 2014, and which will be reprised live in San Francisco in mid-March 2014.  Materials are due early so that PLI can put everything into book form for attendees, so I have been writing to ensure enough to support one credit hour of CLE, and starting the planning of my hour-long presentation generally.

A big part of what I like to do when I give an ethics lecture is to review recent decisions of the Office of Enrollment and Discipline to see what OED has been focusing on and what trouble our fellow members of the patent bar are getting into. This not only gives us insight into the OED approach, but also gives us an opportunity to review the ethics rules practitioners are charged most frequently with violating. It also gives us an opportunity to discuss the process you will be afforded if you should find yourself on the wrong side of an OED complaint.


USPTO Warns Practitioners On Abusive Filings In Patent Reexamination

The following post comes from Scott A. McKeown, partner at Oblon Spivak, Practice Center Contributor and writer for Patents Post Grant.

On January 10, 2011, I co-chaired PLI’s Reissue & Reexamination Strategies and Tactics with Concurrent Litigation 2011. Mr. Kenneth Schor, Senior Legal Adviser of the USPTO’s Office of Patent Legal Administration (OPLA) participated and presented a very informative lecture on proper petition practice in patent reexamination.

Mr. Schor made several points of great interest to all post grant practitioners namely:

1) It is improper to oppose many petitions in inter partes reexaminations or provide sur-replies to properly opposed petitions;

2) Improper petitions will be referred to the Office of Enrollment & Discipline (OED), and

3) Abusive petition practices are believed to be aggravating a growing petition inventory. (more…)