February 10, 2004
FEB 1 0 2004
ATTN.: Harry I. Moatz
Mail Stop OED-Ethics Rules
United States Patent and Trademark Office
P.O. Box 1450
Alexandria, VA 22313-1450
Re: Comments re Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
68 Fed. Reg. 69442 (December 12. 2003)
1. Imposing a yearly tax on registered agents and attorneys is respectfully submitted to be a repugnant idea. The Office asserts that this tax is necessary to fund the operations of the Office of Enrollment and Discipline, in analogy to the yearly dues collected by State Bars. However, State Bars are funded entirely by such dues, whereas the Office receives large amounts of cash from patent application-related fees. So the analogy is flawed. If the Office feels compelled to tax registered agents and attorneys, why not impose punitive fines upon practitioners who violate the disciplinary rules?
2. Also, requiring continuing legal education (CLE) of voluntary inactive agents and attorneys is also respectfully submitted to be ill-conceived. The Office asserts that CLE is necessary, again in analogy to State Bars. However, the Office fails to notice that said Bars do not require
CLE for inactive attorneys. So again, the analogy is not appropriate. An alternative would be to require that agents and attorneys returning from inactive status be required to complete a larger number of hours of CLE in the year of their return.
3. Regarding the requirement that filings be personally signed by the registered attorney or agent, it is suggested that the Office sua sponte reject filings which, on their face, appear to violate this rule. For example, a signature accompanied by a slash and then the initials of another suggests that the rule has been violated. Yet the Office routinely accepts such filings.
4. The proposed rules place prohibitions upon "participating in the drafting of a patent application" which are so broad that they raise 1 Sc Amendment questions. Clarification is respectfully requested.
Favorable consideration regarding the foregoing is earnestly solicited.