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November 12, 2008

Discipline

Patent practitioners take note. As of September 15, committing any crime, including those of immodest moral turpitude, such as being caught for commercial engagement of prosecution in your pants, can result in revoking your "privilege" to prosecute before the USPTO. Even a driving violation conviction must be reported to the PTO.

New rule 37 C.F. R. 11.25(a) requires that a person practicing before the Office "shall notify the OED Director in writing ... within thirty (30) days ..." from the date of a conviction of a "crime." A "crime" is defined in 37 C.F.R. 11.1 as "any offense declared to be a felony or misdemeanor by Federal or State law in the jurisdiction where the act occurs."

While most traffic offenses are merely state revenue snatchers, some are misdemeanors or even felonies, particularly drunk or reckless driving, and those that destroy property or cause injury to someone.

USPTO disciplinary rule 10.23(b)(6) permits discipline if a practitioner engages in any conduct that "adversely reflects on the practitioner's fitness to practice before the Office." But the PTO is a Jewish mother, feeling that the "scope of reportable crimes in the first sentence of ยง 11.25(a) should be broad and expansive, as it is simply information that the OED Director should have available in the OED Director's continuing responsibility to oversee the good moral character of a practitioner and fitness in other respects necessary to continue to have the privilege to continue in the practice before the Office."

The OED Director is particularly interested in violations of 37 C.F.R. 10.23(b)(6) and 37 C.F. R. 10.23(b)(4) and (b)(5), which permit discipline for misconduct "involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation," or for conduct "that is prejudicial to the administration of justice."

The current USPTO administration adjudging moral character is an instance of living in a glass house and throwing stones.

USPTO Changes to Representation of Others Before the United States Patent and Trademark Office; Final Rule [PDF]

As George Carlin observed: "Honesty may be the best policy, but it's important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy."

Posted by Patent Hawk at November 12, 2008 2:36 PM | The Patent Office

Comments

I'm reminded of the scene from "Stripes" where the Army recruiter asks Bill Murray and Harold Ramis if they've ever been convicted of a crime. Bill Murray says, hesitantly, "Convicted?"

Posted by: JD at November 12, 2008 3:36 PM

The ABA Journal had an article a couple years ago about the way state bar ethics gestapos are getting out of control and busting lawyers for minor infractions of the law, including traffic violtaions. The justification is that speeding shows a "disrespect for the law."

Basically what you have is a bunch of 30 year old power-happy punks who have found a way to flex some muscle.

I've sued one state bar twice, and found their litigation tactics to be disgusting, and yet they apply their "ethics standards" to their members.

The main problem is that patent practitioners don't have an organization that will push back at this sort of crap. The weak-kneed organizations that are out there don't really do much but collect big-ticket dues and send out Email newsletters. Did any of them sue Dudas to block the continuation rules?

Posted by: Babel Boy at November 13, 2008 9:43 AM