Patent Law Updates | New Statutes, Regulations and Rules
October 18, 2012
USPTO Proposes Updated Professional Conduct Rules
Changes to Representation of Others Before the United States Patent and Trademark Office
37 CFR Parts 1, 2, 7, 10, 11 and 41, Docket No. PTO–C–2012–0034, RIN 0651–AC81, 10/18/2012
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced today its proposal to update the USPTO Code of Professional Responsibility to conform to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct of the American Bar Association (ABA), versions of which have been adopted by 49 states and the District of Columbia.
The USPTO is seeking public comments on the proposal for a period of 60 days, ending December 17, 2012.
This proposed rule package adopts most ABA provisions wholesale or with minor revisions and codifies many professional responsibility obligations that already apply to the practice of law.
Changes approved by the ABA House of Delegates in August 2012 have not been incorporated in these proposed rules. The Office also proposes to revise the existing procedural rules governing disciplinary investigations and proceedings.
Specifically, the proposed rules will streamline practitioners’ professional responsibility obligations, bringing USPTO obligations in line with most practitioners’ state bar requirements. The package also proposes to eliminate the annual practitioner maintenance fee.
The bars of 50 U.S. jurisdictions including the District of Columbia have adopted the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct or a modification thereof. The USPTO’s notice of proposed rulemaking sets out its proposed Rules of Professional Conduct.
The changes from the existing USPTO Code of Professional Responsibility are intended to bring standards of ethical practice before the Office into closer conformity with the Rules of Professional Conduct adopted by nearly all States and the District of Columbia, while addressing circumstances particular to practice before the Office.
By adopting professional conduct rules consistent with the ABA Model Rules and the professional responsibility rules of 50 U.S. jurisdictions, the USPTO both would provide attorneys with consistent professional conduct standards, and would provide practitioners with large bodies of both case law and opinions written by disciplinary authorities that have adopted the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
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