- “In its argument, Snyders suggested that it should receive some particular treatment from the court because of a potential conflict of interest with Dir. Iancu. Prior to joining the USPTO, Iancu was in private practice and represented St. Jude in a parallel proceedings. Although Dir. Iancu has recused himself from the case, Snyders argues that the Director’s conflicts are not so easily erased.”
- “Rather, an attorneys conflicts regularly extend to subordinate employees as well. Here, the Arthrex remedy comes into play because the court in that case gave more direct authority supervisory to the PTO Director. The following argument comes from Snyders’ brief:
- The concept that disqualification of an attorney may extend to that attorney’s subordinate employees is well established. For example, the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct recognize a conflict where representation of a client is materially limited by an attorney’s personal interest. See Model Rules of Prof’l Conduct R. 1.7(a)(2) (2016). Those rules also recognize that disqualification of an attorney due to a personal conflict may be imputed to fellow employees where the employees would be materially limited due to their loyalty to the attorney.”
- “The Federal Circuit found the argument here ‘without merit . . . the Deputy Director’s role sufficiently removes any potential taint of the Director’s conflict.’ The Court did not address the particular issue here regarding the heightened supervisory authority of PTAB judges coming-out-of Arthrex.”
I was curious about “Arthrex” and found: “Arthrex Update: New Amicus Briefs and USPTO Petition” —
- “The petition sets forth US Inventor’s position that the CAFC was correct in holding that Administrative Patent Judges (APJs) are unconstitutionally appointed, but incorrect in its remedy, i.e. ‘abolition of APJ tenure protection’, because it does not ‘change anything about the character of APJ validity decisions that might downgrade APJ employment status from principal officer to that of inferior or non-officer.'”
- “US Inventor suggested an alternate remedy for consideration by the Supreme Court: “sever[ing] the statute so that patentability determinations continue as Congress intended, only with APJs downgraded to making advisory patentability decisions”, thereby making APJs inferior or non-officers. According to US Inventor, “all that would need to happen under this alternative remedy…is severance of the part of the statute that makes final written decisions on patentability binding.” In conclusion, US inventor requested that the Supreme Court grant certiorari to consider the correct remedy and at least retroactively convert APJ decisions into advisory and non-binding decisions.
If this is up your risk alley, see also: “One Way or Another, Arthrex Promises to Put the PTAB on Trial”