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Posts Tagged: "ethics"

Pro-Apple TTAB Bias Case Heats Up at CAFC

Following a motion filed in mid-October with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) accusing the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and its management of facilitating the appearance of bias at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) in favor of Apple, Inc., Apple has now filed its opposition to that motion. Apple contends there is no precedent for allowing the motion, as it requests to supplement the record with documents that were not part of the trial record; that the TTAB is “an executive adjudicatory body” within the USPTO, which is “an executive agency within the Department of Commerce, and the TTAB’s administrative law judges are not subject to the recusal requirements set out in 28 U.S.C. § 455”; and that the documents Charles Bertini is asking to submit “reflect merely routine and fleeting professional contacts” that “fall far below the threshold of the personal contacts necessary to support disqualification on the basis of bias or prejudice.”

Pardon Me? Levandowski Case Highlights Need for Proactive Approach to Avoid Trade Secret Problems in Hiring

My head was turned by the recent news of President Trump’s final-day pardon of Anthony Levandowski, the former head of Google’s self-driving car unit who was recruited into Uber with full knowledge that he had downloaded 14,000 confidential files on his way out, and who was later convicted of trade secret theft. I was struck by the White House statement of justification. It said that Levandowski – who hadn’t yet served a day of his 18-month sentence – “has paid a significant price for his actions.” I have no doubt that Levandowski has “paid a significant price” for his misdeeds, but it caused me to think about the price paid by others who were involved in this fiasco of a hiring, most specifically Uber. Salacious stories like this one serve as a reminder of all the things that can go wrong when we hire someone from the competition. Especially when we stop thinking about risk and see only upside. So, let’s talk about that risk and what you can do to keep yourself out of trouble – and never, ever need a presidential pardon.

Webinar: Ethics of Law Firm Cybersecurity in a Work-From-Home World

1 Hour MCLE, 1 Legal Ethics This webinar explains the cybersecurity ethics rules in a work-from-home environment, provides cybersecurity statistics relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, and offers practical and budget-friendly tips for making the work-from-home environment secure for lawyers and their clients. Panel speakers are Sharon D. Nelson, President and John W. Simek, Vice President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc., a…

DOJ Brief to CAFC Slamming Apple Highlights PTAB Code of Conduct Problem

Andrei Iancu, the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), has a real mess on his hands. This particular mess relates to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the astonishing reality that the Administrative Patent Judges (APJs) on the PTAB are not bound by any Code of Judicial Conduct, as is applicable to Article III federal judges. Instead, PTAB Judges are only bound by the same ethics standard that applies to all other employees, which requires them to recuse themselves from any decisions relating to former employers for one year. That is how several PTAB Judges have been able to adjudicate inter partes review (IPR) and covered business method (CBM) challenges filed by a former litigation client – Apple, Inc. What is scandalous is the dismissal of this behavior in the recently filed amicus brief filed at the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit by the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) in the matter of Apple, Inc. v. Voip-Pal, Inc., Nos. 2018-1456, 2018-1457. In this case there are no clean hands, although you can certainly feel for the patent owner.

Rules Governing Admission to the Bar for In-House Counsel

The issue of unauthorized practice of law is a concern for all attorneys, and something that periodically does catch up with patent attorneys. The typical scenario where this issue arises is when patent attorneys are admitted in one state and have an office in another state but provide more than patent related services. When an attorney accepts a job as an in-house counsel, the potential for problems associated with the unauthorized practice of law similarly present themselves. Different states have different regulations and procedures that must be followed when an out-of-state attorney relocates to become in-house counsel. Although in-house counsel should always consult the rules and regulations of the state where their employer is located, a common thread in these rules and regulations is that the in-house lawyer must be a full-time employee and may only provide legal services for the employer (including parent, affiliate and subsidiaries). However, in-house attorneys with out-of-state registrations are frequently allowed, often even encouraged, to provide pro bono representation through recognized legal aid organizations. The American Bar Association has compiled links to information for each state, which is current through November 7, 2019. In-House Corporate Counsel Registration Rules (last visited December 14, 2019). What follows below is a discussion of how several states with higher populations of patent attorneys handle admission for out-of-state in-house counsel. We will review the rules for Virginia, Texas, California, New York, Illinois and Florida.

A Story of Ethics and Optics: Former PTAB Judge Matt Clements Now Works for Apple

IPWatchdog recently learned that Apple, Inc. has hired former Administrative Patent Judge Matt Clements. Although Clements’ LinkedIn profile does not reflect the fact that he has left the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) as of this writing, a search of the California State Bar Attorneys Roster clearly identifies Matthew Clements as being employed by Apple, Inc. in Cupertino, California. If the name Matt Clements rings a bell it is because IPWatchdog has rather exhaustively covered the remarkable ethical transgressions that have taken place at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) over the past several years, and Clements was the protagonist in chief. As was first reported by Steve Brachmann, Clements represented Apple, Inc. as patent infringement defense counsel up to his appointment as an APJ in March 2013. Clements then proceeded to preside over several dozen post grant challenges brought by Apple. Not surprisingly, Apple did extraordinarily well in those challenges, leading Brachmann to conclude that having Clements on the panel for an Apple petition was a lethal cocktail for patent owners.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker Connected to World Patent Marketing Fraudulent Scheme to Bilk Inventors

In May 2018, Scott Cooper and his companies, World Patent Marketing Inc. and Desa Industries Inc., agreed to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission that bans them from the invention promotion business, and ordered payment of $25,987,192. The FTC charged World Patent Marketing with being nothing more than a scam, bilking millions of dollars from inventors. “The record supports a preliminary finding that Defendants devised a fraudulent scheme to use consumer funds to enrich themselves,” concluded United States District Judge Darrin P. Gayles as he issued a preliminary injunction in August 2017. Matthew G. Whitaker, the Acting Attorney General of the United States who ascended to the position with the resignation of Jeff Sessions, served on the advisory board of World Patent Marketing. Worse, Whitaker was involved in some of the egregious intimidation that led to the charges, issuance of an injunction and ultimately the settlement.

Exclusive Interview: PTO Director Andrei Iancu and OED Director Will Covey on Practitioner Dues, CLE and Unauthorized Practice

The focus of this interview was OED generally, but more specifically why they Office felt it was necessary to begin charging annual dues to practitioners and what those funds would be used for. I indicated leading up to the interview that I would specifically like to discuss the issue of unauthorized practice of law, explaining that I personally was not philosophically opposed to dues but that as a registered patent practitioner myself I would like to see OED do more than just reciprocal discipline, which appears to be the overwhelming portion of their work, at least if you look at the OED Reading Room of published decisions. Director Covey came with statistics and followed up after the interview with the chart included below. While it may appear OED focuses overwhelmingly on reciprocal discipline, that is a tiny fraction of what they do.

Federal Circuit Reverses PTAB Invalidation of Wireless Network Patent in Apple Cases Involving APJ Clements

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently issued a decision in DSS Technology Management v. Apple, which reversed an earlier decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to invalidate patent claims covering a wireless communication networking technology… While this may seem like an ordinary, garden variety misapplication of the law of obviousness by the PTAB, there is more beneath the surface. In this case one of the Administrative Patent Judges hearing the case at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) was APJ Matt Clemens, who previously represented Apple as a defense attorney in patent infringement matters prior to joining the board… It is astonishing that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board STILL does not have Rules of Conduct or any kind of Code of Judicial Ethics that applies to Administrative Patent Judges. This is inexcusable, period.

Disbarred Patent Attorney Michael I. Kroll Still Practicing, No Comment from PTO

Despite being excluded from the practice of patent law before the USPTO, Kroll is openly continuing his practice. His website Invention.net is still up and running, advertising his services as specializing in patent law and having obtained thousands of patents for inventors. On Monday, April 2, 2018, an e-mail sent to patent@invention.net inquiring about assistance yielded a return e-mail containing advice on the need to quickly file a patent application because the U.S. is not a first to file country… Michael I. Kroll presents a very real challenge to the authority of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and specifically to the Office of Enrollment and Discipline. If the Office is unable to stop Kroll from practicing why exactly should any practitioner concern themselves with OED? Why have any ethical rules?

What Patent Attorneys, Patent Agents and Law Firms Need to Know about Client Communications

Recently, however, the USPTO and the Federal Circuit have both clarified that a patent agent’s communications related to his or her authorized practice are protected in the same manner as attorney client communications, such as those by patent attorneys… Further, state courts are not bound by USPTO rules or Federal Circuit law. Accordingly, to the extent a patent agent’s communications regarding his or her authorized practice are at issue in a state court proceeding that can’t be removed to a federal jurisdiction, the communications may not have the same protection as that provided in a federal court or AIA proceeding. Although the circumstances under which communications between a patent agent and a client would be discoverable in litigation in state court are limited, the potential admissibility in various states leaves a gap in the potential privilege.

The Year in Patents: The Top 10 Patent Stories from 2017

It is that time once again when we look back on the previous year in preparation to close the final chapter of 2017 in order move fresh into the year ahead. 2017 was a busy year in the patent world, although change was not as cataclysmic as it had been in past years, such as 2012 when the PTAB and post grant challenges began, in 2013 when AIA first to file rules went into effect, or in 2014 when the Supreme Court decided Alice v. CLS Bank. It was, nevertheless, still an interesting year… To come up with the list below I’ve reviewed all of our patent articles, and have come up with these top 10 patent stories for 2017. They appear in chronological order as they happened throughout the year.

3 Questions Lawyers Should Ask Themselves Now Regarding Alcohol

Attorneys have stressful jobs and many turn to alcohol as a form of self-medication to relax.   Problem drinking is much higher for attorneys than for the public.   Attorneys with a drinking problem are more prone to malpractice complaints and ethical violations.   This article discusses why drinking by lawyers is a big concern and how you might address it.

PPAC meeting comes and goes with no discussion of PTAB conflicts of interest

At the May PPAC meeting Ruschke deferred questions on issues relating to possible conflicts of interest and specifically indicated the topic of conflicts would be discussed at PPAC’s next quarterly meeting.The PPAC recently convened once again, this time on Thursday, August 3, 2017. No issues of possible conflicts of interest were raised and there was no mention of the conflicts of interest questions that have raised very serious questions about the appearance of impropriety at the PTAB… The blindfold appearing in the common depiction of Lady Justice is there for a reason. It’s time to acknowledge that and fix this problem so that it never happens again. The USPTO must adopt a Code of Judicial Conduct for Administrative Patent Judges.

6 Core Values and 5 Emotional Intelligence Skills Leading to Sound Ethical Decisions

Core values are key to avoiding ethical violations. This is because most ethics violations are not intentional. They occur because decisions are being made based on the wrong values (i.e., increased revenues alone) or on emotion (i.e., fear that taking more time to evaluate will be disastrous). Establishing sound core values and strong decision making emotional intelligence skills will help ensure that you do not commit an unintended ethics violation.