37 CFR § 11.19 - Disciplinary jurisdiction; grounds for discipline and for transfer to disability inactive status.

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§ 11.19 Disciplinary jurisdiction; grounds for discipline and for transfer to disability inactive status.

(a) Disciplinary jurisdiction. All practitioners engaged in practice before the Office, all practitioners administratively suspended under § 11.11, all practitioners registered or recognized to practice before the Office in patent matters, all practitioners resigned or inactivated under § 11.11, all practitioners authorized under § 41.5(a) or § 42.10(c) of this chapter, and all practitioners transferred to disability inactive status or publicly disciplined by a duly constituted authority are subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Office and to being transferred to disability inactive status. A non-practitioner is also subject to the disciplinary authority of the Office if the person engages in or offers to engage in practice before the Office without proper authority.

(b) Grounds for discipline; Grounds for transfer to disability inactive status. The following, whether done individually by a practitioner or in concert with any other person or persons and whether or not done in the course of providing legal services to a client, or in a matter pending before the Office, constitute grounds for discipline or grounds for transfer to disability inactive status.

(1) Grounds for discipline include:

(i) Conviction of a serious crime;

(ii) Discipline on ethical or professional misconduct grounds imposed in another jurisdiction or disciplinary disqualification from participating in or appearing before any Federal program or agency;

(iii) Failure to comply with any order of a Court disciplining a practitioner, or any final decision of the USPTO Director in a disciplinary matter;

(iv) Violation of any USPTO Rule of Professional Conduct; or

(v) Violation of the oath or declaration taken by the practitioner. See § 11.8.

(2) Grounds for transfer to disability inactive status include:

(i) Being transferred to disability inactive status in another jurisdiction;

(ii) Being judicially declared incompetent, being judicially ordered to be involuntarily committed after a hearing on the grounds of insanity, incompetency or disability, or being placed by court order under guardianship or conservatorship; or

(iii) Filing a motion requesting a disciplinary proceeding be held in abeyance because the practitioner is suffering from a disability or addiction that makes it impossible for the practitioner to adequately defend the charges in the disciplinary proceeding.

(c) Petitions to disqualify a practitioner in ex parte or inter partes matters in the Office are not governed by this subpart and will be handled on a case-by-case basis under such conditions as the USPTO Director deems appropriate.

(d) The OED Director may refer the existence of circumstances suggesting unauthorized practice of law to the authorities in the appropriate jurisdiction(s).

(e) The OED Director has the discretion to choose any of the independent grounds of discipline under paragraph (b) of this section and to pursue any of the procedures set forth in this subpart in every disciplinary proceeding.

[73 FR 47689, Aug. 14, 2008, as amended at 78 FR 20200, Apr. 3, 2013; 86 FR 28457, May 26, 2021; 88 FR 45087, July 14, 2023]