USPTO to Update Rules of Professional Conduct

USPTO to Update Professional Conduct Rules

New rules will correspond to the ABA and most state bar requirements

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced last week 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.

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.

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To get an idea of the proposed changes, view this comparison chart of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct and the proposed USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct.  More information regarding the package is located on the USPTO’s website at: www.uspto.gov/ip/boards/oed/ethics.jsp.

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.

The USPTO requests that comments be sent either by email to:

or by regular mail to:

  • Mail Stop OED-Ethics Rules, United States Patent and Trademark Office, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, Virginia 22313-1450, marked to the attention of William R. Covey, Deputy General Counsel for Enrollment and Discipline and Director of the Office of Enrollment and Discipline.