Robert A. Green
Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2004 10:14 PM
To: ethicsrules comments
Subject: Comments to Proposed PTO Rules
To whom it may concern:
I am a partner at the IP boutique of Christie, Parker & Hale and offer the following comments on the Proposed Rule Changes Concerning Annual Practitioner Fees and Recertification or Continuing Education.
The fees to apply for registration, take the registration exam, and to be registered are already substantial. Most patent practitioners already pay hefty state bar dues annually. Fees to be admitted to various Federal bars are a one-time affair. The PTO can fulfill its clearly circumscribed disciplinary responsibilities without further burdening the practitioners appearing before it. The present system works fine just as it is. The unfair taxing of patent practitioners seems to me to be an odious parallel to the burdensome PTO fees imposed on inventors as a class. Now, patent attorneys are to be financially singled out and required to do what no other federal practitioner is required to do.
Also, I do not believe that anything in 35 U.S.C. §2(b)(2)(D) authorizes the PTO to recertify registered practitioners or require them to take continuing training. The statutory phrase "may prescribe regulations governing the recognition and conduct of agents, attorneys, or other persons representing applicants or other parties before the Office," read together with the elaboration of what may be required of them "before [their] being recognized" (good moral character and reputation, the possession of necessary qualifications) has to be stretched beyond its plain meaning to encompass recertification or compulsory continuing training or any other type of continuous monitoring of practitioners' qualifications. "Recognition" is clearly intended to be a one-time event. Similarly, reading "regulations governing ... conduct" as including the ongoing testing of or mandatory continuing training of practitioners is a very strained interpretation. If Congress had intended to authorize the imposition of annual fees on, or the ongoing supervision of, practitioners it could have easily added language to that effect to the statute.
For these reasons, I encourage the PTO to voluntarily withdraw the proposed rule changes relating to recertification and continuing legal education.
Robert A. Green
Registration No. 28,301