Office of Enrollment and Discipline
Deputy General Counsel for Office of Enrollment and Discipline and Director of OED: William Covey
The disciplinary system is designed to protect the public, not punish practitioners. The Office has the power to discipline practitioners, but only after a full hearing with the presentation of clear and convincing evidence concerning the misconduct. Depending on the seriousness of the offense, a practitioner can be given a warning, reprimanded, suspended from practicing law before the Office for a period of time, or excluded (i.e., disbarred) - prohibited from practicing law before the Office. Discipline can be imposed pursuant to a settlement that is accepted by the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or after a full hearing with the presentation of clear and convincing evidence concerning the misconduct.
Subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act, the USPTO cannot disclose the existence or non-existence of an investigation and any information gathered unless made a matter of public record in proceedings brought before the Director of the USPTO or in the courts. Information available to and for the protection of the public is on our OED Final Decisions web page within the FOIA Reading Room.
- Registers patent attorneys and agents. Only attorneys or agents who are admitted to its bar are permitted to practice before the USPTO in patent cases.
- Develops an examination that is administered each business day to determine if applicants for registration have the necessary knowledge of patent law and practice to assist applicants for patents.
- Checks the technological training and moral character of potential patent practitioners.
- Publishes the names of persons seeking registration before they are registered.
- Maintains a roster of attorneys and agents recognized to practice before the Office in patent cases. The register is available to the public and is updated weekly.
- Investigates grievances alleging unethical conduct by registered patent attorneys and agents, as well as attorneys practicing before the USPTO in trademark cases (collectively "practitioners").