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Thomas W. Adams

Moatz, Harry

From: tadams@...
Sent: Wednesday, February 04, 2004 9:51 AM
To: ethicsrules comments
Subject: Comments on Proposed Rules

Harry I. Moatz
Director of Enrollment and Discipline
United States Patent and Trademark Office
P.O. Box 1450
Alexandria, VA 22313-1450

RE: Comment on Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Rule Sections 11.12 and 11.13

Dear Mr. Moatz:

I take this opportunity to timely comment on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Rule Sections 11.12 and 11.13 that was published in the December 12, 2003 edition of the Federal Register.
I do not oppose a requirement for continuing education for patent practitioners that is similar to the current requirements of most state bars for legal practitioners. In fact, the goal of requiring patent practitioners to obtain continuing education credit that is accepted by most state bar organizations, as stated in the Notice, is commendable. I would support requiring that a portion of the state-mandated CLE hours be patent-related for registered patent attorneys.
However, requiring an examination in conjunction with any continuing education activities would be an onerous burden on any active practitioner. An active practitioner must already devote a significant amount of time to attend continuing legal education programs and to keep apprised of the current state of federal law, state law and PTO procedures. These very activities, together with engaging in daily practice, keep conscientious practitioners, such as all of the patent practitioners in my firm, up-to-date on current patent laws in order to competently represent our clients. Should an additional requirement be instituted mandating an examination, time over and above what is already devoted to maintaining current knowledge of the law would be required to diligently prepare for and take the examination. This is time that would be removed from our practices, impairing the time devoted to our clients and increasing the cost of our representation. As a result, an examination as part of any continuing education requirement would be a significant burden upon active practitioners and our clients. The Notice states that the continuing education requirement is modeled after the state systems for attorneys. I am not aware of any state requiring an examination as part of its continuing education requirement once an attorney is admitted to practice. Thus, an examination requirement lacks a basis in the systems after which the continuing education proposal is modeled.
I note that, in order to obtain credit for on-line continuing legal education courses, which are taken on an unsupervised basis, a simple examination must be completed at the end of the course. However, such examinations are quite cursory, serving primarily only to confirm that the practitioner did in fact participate in the course. Such an examination requirement would not be objectionable, if the Office accredits on-line courses for fulfillment of the proposed requirement. Finally, I do believe that patent agents should be required to attend patent-related continuing legal education activities. At this time, to my knowledge, there is no such requirement.
Therefore, it is my view that, while continuing education which is patent-related and a component of existing state bar requirements is commendable, any examination requirement over above a cursury confirmatory examination is unnecessary and unduly burdensome.

Yours truly,

Thomas W. Adams
Reg. No. 35,047


Thomas W. Adams
1621 Euclid Avenue, 19th Floor
Cleveland, Ohio 44115
216-621-6165 (fax)

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