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Ethics

The Trademark Company: A Cautionary Tale

George: I got greedy. Flew too close to the
sun on wings of pastrami.
Jerry: Yeah, that's what you did . . .
- Seinfeld, Episode #904 "The Blood"

Matthew Swyers is done—at least for five years, maybe forever. It didn't matter that Swyers was a former Trademark Examining Attorney at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO") from December 2000 through September 2002 (or maybe that made it matter more). The USPTO got their man, even if he was formerly one of their own. I don't take any pleasure in the misfortunes of others (although I know a lot of others are taking satisfaction in his comeuppance). That's not why I'm writing this blog post. I'm writing it because I think it's fascinating and I wanted to learn more about what happened and why. Like most attorneys practicing trademark law before the USPTO, I'm not very familiar with the Office of Enrollment and Discipline ("OED") or exclusions on consent—why would I be? So a look into the downfall of Swyers was educational, even if I was left with a few unanswered questions.

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Image of Trademark Attorney with map of the world behind him

In today's world, most trademark attorneys' practice is nationwide. They have clients located in other states. They have to litigate in other states. When a trademark attorney has a multijurisdictional practice, it can create problems when it comes to the rules prohibiting the unauthorized practice of law. In this blog post, I'll identify some of the rules to be aware of and how they can come into play for trademark attorneys. continue reading→