Washington DC
06 November 2017
Reporter: Barney Dixon

USPTO launches diversion pilot for minor misconduct

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has launched its two-year diversion pilot programme, giving practitioners who engaged in minor misconduct under specific circumstances the opportunity to avoid formal discipline by taking remedial measures.

Implemented by the USPTO’s office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED), the programme will be available to patent and trademark practitioners whose physical, mental or emotional health issues—including substance or alcohol abuse—as well as practice management issues, resulted in minor misconduct and little harm to a client.

The USPTO said the programme will help the OED “accomplish its mission of protecting the public from practitioners who fail to comply with the USPTO’s standards for ethics and professionalism”.

Joseph Matal, who is currently acting under secretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the USPTO, said: “We’re hopeful that this pilot program will align our agency with best practices established in other states, while allowing practitioners a fair chance to rectify previous misconduct and allow them to move forward in a productive manner.”

Intellectual property and ethics lawyer, Michael McCabe, said in a blog post on his website that the programme is a “welcome response to the growing epidemic of drug and alcohol abuse among members of the legal profession”.

McCabe, who recently launched a law firm dedicated to representing trademark and patent attorneys in OED disputes at the USPTO, explained that the OED’s programme comes at a “critical time period in the legal profession”.

He said: “Disciplinary counsel across the US have increasingly come to recognise that the profession has a serious problem with drug and alcohol abuse … lawyers suffer from alcoholism and drug addiction at a rate that is grossly disproportionate to the rates of addiction in other professions and in the general population.”

According to McCabe, traditional attorney disciplinaries focus on protecting the public by punishing the lawyer, including licence suspension and reprimands.

But, he argued that drug and alcohol abuse, as well as mental health issues, can play a significant role in cases involving the violation of professional conduct.

McCabe explained: “The idea behind diversion is to treat the root cause by taking the practitioner out of the realm of the disciplinary system. It is hoped that by focusing on getting practitioners the proper medical care and treatment, both the public and the bar will benefit.”

McCabe's blog can be read here.

More Industry news
The latest news from IPPro The Internet
Join Our Newsletter

Sign up today and never
miss the latest news or an issue again

Subscribe now
J A Kemp to open in Paris
11 January 2018 | Paris | Reporter: Barney Dixon
Intellectual property law firm J A Kemp will open a new office in Paris, its second in continental Europe
PIPCU seizes £100,000 worth of counterfeit clothing
21 December 2017 | London | Reporter: Barney Dixon
The City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has arrested a man and seized around £100,000 worth of counterfeit clothing in the lead up to Christmas
IACC and Danish Consulate General in Shanghai sign IP agreement
20 December 2017 | Copenhagen | Reporter: Barney Dixon
IACC president Bob Barchiesi and Nicolai Prytz, consul general of Denmark in Shanghai, signed the agreement in Copenhagen on 18 December
US DoJ launches IP enforcement network
18 December 2017 | Washington DC | Reporter: Barney Dixon
The US DoJ has launched an intellectual property enforcement network, with five specialised prosecutors deployed in selected regions to provide training and technical assistance to local law enforcement
USTR review of Thailand closed
18 December 2017 | Washington DC | Reporter: Barney Dixon
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has closed the 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Thailand, after the country took steps to strengthen its intellectual property framework
IPC3 investigated 1,400 suspects in 2017
13 December 2017 | The Hague | Reporter: Barney Dixon
Europol investigated nearly 1,400 suspects and was involved in 36 major intellectual property crime cases in 2017 as part of its Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition
China to bolster IP rights protection mechanisms
27 November 2017 | Beijing | Reporter: Barney Dixon
China will ramp up its intellectual property rights protection mechanisms to promote economic development, according to the country’s premier Li Keqiang