Practitioner Conduct and Discipline

OMB 0651-0017

OMB 0651-0017

The Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has the authority to establish regulations governing the conduct and discipline of agents, attorneys, or other persons representing applicants and other parties before the USPTO (35 U.S.C. §§ 2 and 32-33). The current USPTO Code of Professional Responsibility (37 CFR 10.20-10.112) describes how practitioners should conduct themselves professionally and outlines their responsibilities for recordkeeping and reporting violations or complaints of misconduct to the USPTO, while current procedural rules governing disciplinary investigations and proceedings (37 CFR 11.19-11.61) dictate how the USPTO can discipline practitioners. The Recordkeeping and Disclosure rules require that registered practitioners and attorneys who appear before the Office maintain complete records of clients, including all funds, securities and other properties of clients coming into his/her possession, and render appropriate accounts to the client regarding such records, as well as report violations of the rules to the Office. Practitioners are mandated by the rules to maintain proper documentation so that they can fully cooperate with an investigation in the event of a report of an alleged violation and that violations are prosecuted as appropriate. The Office has determined that the recordkeeping and maintenance of such records are excluded from any associated PRA burden as these activities are usual and customary for practitioners representing clients (5 CFR 1320.3(b)(2)). Additionally, in the case of most attorney practitioners, any requirements for collection of information are not presumed to impose a Federal burden as these requirements are also required by a unit of State or local government, namely State bar(s), and would be required even in the absence of any Federal requirement (5 CFR 1320.3(b)(3)). These rules also require, in certain instances, that written consents or certifications be provided. Such consents or certifications have been determined not to constitute information under 5 CFR 1320.3(h)(1). The USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct require an attorney or agent to report knowledge of certain violations of the USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct to the USPTO. If the complaint is found to have merit, the USPTO will investigate and possibly prosecute violations of the Rules and provide the practitioner with the opportunity to respond to the complaint. The Director of the Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED) may, after notice and opportunity for a hearing, suspend, exclude, or disqualify any practitioner from further practice before the USPTO based on noncompliance with the regulations. Practitioners who have been excluded or suspended from practice before the USPTO must keep and maintain records of their steps to comply with the suspension or exclusion order. These records serve as the practitioner’s proof of compliance with the order. If this information is not collected, the Director of OED would have no knowledge of alleged violations and would be unable to enforce the provisions of the Rules.

The latest form for Practitioner Conduct and Discipline expires 2022-04-30 and can be found here.

OMB Details

Record Keeping Maintenance Under Suspension or Exclusion from the USPTO

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