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e-CFR data is current as of August 4, 2020

Title 37Chapter IPart 11Subpart D → Subject Group


Title 37: Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights
PART 11—REPRESENTATION OF OTHERS BEFORE THE UNITED STATES PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE
Subpart D—USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct


Law Firms and Associations

§11.501   Responsibilities of partners, managers, and supervisory practitioners.

(a) A practitioner who is a partner in a law firm, and a practitioner who individually or together with other practitioners possesses comparable managerial authority in a law firm, shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that all practitioners in the firm conform to the USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct.

(b) A practitioner having direct supervisory authority over another practitioner shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the other practitioner conforms to the USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct.

(c) A practitioner shall be responsible for another practitioner's violation of the USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct if:

(1) The practitioner orders or, with knowledge of the specific conduct, ratifies the conduct involved; or

(2) The practitioner is a partner or has comparable managerial authority in the law firm in which the other practitioner practices, or has direct supervisory authority over the other practitioner, and knows of the conduct at a time when its consequences can be avoided or mitigated but fails to take reasonable remedial action.

§11.502   Responsibilities of a subordinate practitioner.

(a) A practitioner is bound by the USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct notwithstanding that the practitioner acted at the direction of another person.

(b) A subordinate practitioner does not violate the USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct if that practitioner acts in accordance with a supervisory practitioner's reasonable resolution of an arguable question of professional duty.

§11.503   Responsibilities regarding non-practitioner assistance.

With respect to a non-practitioner assistant employed or retained by or associated with a practitioner:

(a) A practitioner who is a partner, and a practitioner who individually or together with other practitioners possesses comparable managerial authority in a law firm shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that the person's conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the practitioner;

(b) A practitioner having direct supervisory authority over the non-practitioner assistant shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the person's conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the practitioner; and

(c) A practitioner shall be responsible for conduct of such a person that would be a violation of the USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct if engaged in by a practitioner if:

(1) The practitioner orders or, with the knowledge of the specific conduct, ratifies the conduct involved; or

(2) The practitioner is a partner or has comparable managerial authority in the law firm in which the person is employed, or has direct supervisory authority over the person, and knows of the conduct at a time when its consequences can be avoided or mitigated but fails to take reasonable remedial action.

§11.504   Professional independence of a practitioner.

(a) A practitioner or law firm shall not share legal fees with a non-practitioner, except that:

(1) An agreement by a practitioner with the practitioner's firm, partner, or associate may provide for the payment of money, over a reasonable period of time after the practitioner's death, to the practitioner's estate or to one or more specified persons;

(2) A practitioner who purchases the practice of a deceased, disabled, or disappeared practitioner may, pursuant to the provisions of §11.117, pay to the estate or other representative of that practitioner the agreed-upon purchase price;

(3) A practitioner or law firm may include non-practitioner employees in a compensation or retirement plan, even though the plan is based in whole or in part on a profit-sharing arrangement; and

(4) A practitioner may share legal fees, whether awarded by a tribunal or received in settlement of a matter, with a nonprofit organization that employed, retained or recommended employment of the practitioner in the matter and that qualifies under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

(b) A practitioner shall not form a partnership with a non-practitioner if any of the activities of the partnership consist of the practice of law.

(c) A practitioner shall not permit a person who recommends, employs, or pays the practitioner to render legal services for another to direct or regulate the practitioner's professional judgment in rendering such legal services.

(d) A practitioner shall not practice with or in the form of a professional corporation or association authorized to practice law for a profit, if:

(1) A non-practitioner owns any interest therein, except that a fiduciary representative of the estate of a practitioner may hold the stock or interest of the practitioner for a reasonable time during administration;

(2) A non-practitioner is a corporate director or officer thereof or occupies the position of similar responsibility in any form of association other than a corporation; or

(3) A non-practitioner has the right to direct or control the professional judgment of a practitioner.

§11.505   Unauthorized practice of law.

A practitioner shall not practice law in a jurisdiction in violation of the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction, or assist another in doing so.

§11.506   Restrictions on right to practice.

A practitioner shall not participate in offering or making:

(a) A partnership, shareholders, operating, employment, or other similar type of agreement that restricts the right of a practitioner to practice after termination of the relationship, except an agreement concerning benefits upon retirement; or

(b) An agreement in which a restriction on the practitioner's right to practice is part of the settlement of a client controversy.

§11.507   Responsibilities regarding law-related services.

A practitioner shall be subject to the USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct with respect to the provision of law-related services if the law-related services are provided:

(a) By the practitioner in circumstances that are not distinct from the practitioner's provision of legal services to clients; or

(b) In other circumstances by an entity controlled by the practitioner individually or with others if the practitioner fails to take reasonable measures to assure that a person obtaining the law-related services knows that the services are not legal services and that the protections of the client-practitioner relationship do not exist.

§§11.508-11.700   [Reserved]

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