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Title 37 Part 11 → Subpart C

Title 37 → Chapter I → Part 11 → Subpart C

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations e-CFR

Title 37 Part 11 → Subpart C

e-CFR data is current as of December 5, 2019

Title 37Chapter IPart 11 → Subpart C


Title 37: Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights
PART 11—REPRESENTATION OF OTHERS BEFORE THE UNITED STATES PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE


Subpart C—Investigations and Disciplinary Proceedings; Jurisdiction, Sanctions, Investigations, and Proceedings


Contents
§11.19   Disciplinary jurisdiction; Jurisdiction to transfer to disability inactive status.
§11.20   Disciplinary sanctions; Transfer to disability inactive status.
§11.21   Warnings.
§11.22   Disciplinary investigations.
§11.23   Committee on Discipline.
§11.24   Reciprocal discipline.
§11.25   Interim suspension and discipline based upon conviction of committing a serious crime.
§11.26   Settlement.
§11.27   Exclusion on consent.
§11.28   Incapacitated practitioners in a disciplinary proceeding.
§11.29   Reciprocal transfer or initial transfer to disability inactive status.
§§11.30-11.31   [Reserved]
§11.32   Instituting a disciplinary proceeding.
§11.33   [Reserved]
§11.34   Complaint.
§11.35   Service of complaint.
§11.36   Answer to complaint.
§11.37   [Reserved]
§11.38   Contested case.
§11.39   Hearing officer; appointment; responsibilities; review of interlocutory orders; stays.
§11.40   Representative for OED Director or respondent.
§11.41   Filing of papers.
§11.42   Service of papers.
§11.43   Motions.
§11.44   Hearings.
§11.45   Amendment of pleadings.
§§11.46-11.48   [Reserved]
§11.49   Burden of proof.
§11.50   Evidence.
§11.51   Depositions.
§11.52   Discovery.
§11.53   Proposed findings and conclusions; post-hearing memorandum.
§11.54   Initial decision of hearing officer.
§11.55   Appeal to the USPTO Director.
§11.56   Decision of the USPTO Director.
§11.57   Review of final decision of the USPTO Director.
§11.58   Duties of disciplined or resigned practitioner, or practitioner on disability inactive status.
§11.59   Dissemination of disciplinary and other information.
§11.60   Petition for reinstatement.
§§11.61-11.99   [Reserved]

Source: 73 FR 47689, Aug. 14, 2008, unless otherwise noted.

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§11.19   Disciplinary jurisdiction; Jurisdiction to transfer to disability inactive status.

(a) All practitioners engaged in practice before the Office; all practitioners administratively suspended; all practitioners registered to practice before the Office in patent cases; all practitioners inactivated; all practitioners authorized under §11.6(d) to take testimony; and all practitioners transferred to disability inactive status, reprimanded, suspended, or excluded from the practice of law by a duly constituted authority, including by the USPTO Director, are subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Office. Practitioners who have resigned shall also be subject to such jurisdiction with respect to conduct undertaken prior to the resignation and conduct in regard to any practice before the Office following the resignation. A person not registered or recognized to practice before the Office is also subject to the disciplinary authority of the Office if the person provides or offers to provide any legal services before the Office.

(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 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 §§11.19 through 11.60 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).

[73 FR 47689, Aug. 14, 2008, as amended at 78 FR 20200, Apr. 3, 2013]

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§11.20   Disciplinary sanctions; Transfer to disability inactive status.

(a) Types of discipline. The USPTO Director, after notice and opportunity for a hearing, and where grounds for discipline exist, may impose on a practitioner the following types of discipline:

(1) Exclusion from practice before the Office;

(2) Suspension from practice before the Office for an appropriate period of time;

(3) Reprimand or censure; or

(4) Probation. Probation may be imposed in lieu of or in addition to any other disciplinary sanction. Any conditions of probation shall be stated in writing in the order imposing probation. The order shall also state whether, and to what extent, the practitioner shall be required to notify clients of the probation. Violation of any condition of probation shall be cause for imposition of the disciplinary sanction. Imposition of the disciplinary sanction predicated upon violation of probation shall occur only after an order to show cause why the disciplinary sanction should not be imposed is resolved adversely to the practitioner.

(b) Conditions imposed with discipline. When imposing discipline, the USPTO Director may condition reinstatement upon the practitioner making restitution, successfully completing a professional responsibility course or examination, or any other condition deemed appropriate under the circumstances.

(c) Transfer to disability inactive status. The USPTO Director, after notice and opportunity for a hearing may, and where grounds exist to believe a practitioner has been transferred to disability inactive status in another jurisdiction, or has been judicially declared incompetent; judicially ordered to be involuntarily committed after a hearing on the grounds of incompetency or disability, or placed by court order under guardianship or conservatorship, transfer the practitioner to disability inactive status.

[73 FR 47689, Aug. 14, 2008, as amended at 78 FR 20200, Apr. 3, 2013]

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§11.21   Warnings.

A warning is neither public nor a disciplinary sanction. The OED Director may conclude an investigation with the issuance of a warning. The warning shall contain a brief statement of facts and USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct relevant to the facts.

[78 FR 20200, Apr. 3, 2013]

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§11.22   Disciplinary investigations.

(a) The OED Director is authorized to investigate possible grounds for discipline. An investigation may be initiated when the OED Director receives a grievance, information or evidence from any source suggesting possible grounds for discipline. Neither unwillingness nor neglect by a grievant to prosecute a charge, nor settlement, compromise, or restitution with the grievant, shall in itself justify abatement of an investigation.

(b) Any person possessing information or evidence concerning possible grounds for discipline of a practitioner may report the information or evidence to the OED Director. The OED Director may request that the report be presented in the form of an affidavit or declaration.

(c) [Reserved]

(d) Preliminary screening of information or evidence. The OED Director shall examine all information or evidence concerning possible grounds for discipline of a practitioner.

(e) Notification of investigation. The OED Director shall notify the practitioner in writing of the initiation of an investigation into whether a practitioner has engaged in conduct constituting possible grounds for discipline.

(f) Request for information and evidence by OED Director.

(1) In the course of the investigation, the OED Director may request information and evidence regarding possible grounds for discipline of a practitioner from:

(i) The grievant,

(ii) The practitioner, or

(iii) Any person who may reasonably be expected to provide information and evidence needed in connection with the grievance or investigation.

(2) The OED Director may request information and evidence regarding possible grounds for discipline of a practitioner from a non-grieving client either after obtaining the consent of the practitioner or upon a finding by a Contact Member of the Committee on Discipline, appointed in accordance with §11.23(d), that good cause exists to believe that the possible ground for discipline alleged has occurred with respect to non-grieving clients. Neither a request for, nor disclosure of, such information shall constitute a violation of any USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct.

(g) Where the OED Director makes a request under paragraph (f)(2) of this section to a Contact Member of the Committee on Discipline, such Contact Member shall not, with respect to the practitioner connected to the OED Director's request, participate in the Committee on Discipline panel that renders a probable cause determination under paragraph (b)(1) of this section concerning such practitioner, and that forwards the probable cause finding and recommendation to the OED Director under paragraph (b)(2) of this section.

(h) Disposition of investigation. Upon the conclusion of an investigation, the OED Director may:

(1) Close the investigation without issuing a warning, or taking disciplinary action;

(2) Issue a warning to the practitioner;

(3) Institute formal charges upon the approval of the Committee on Discipline; or

(4) Enter into a settlement agreement with the practitioner and submit the same for approval of the USPTO Director.

(i) Closing investigation. The OED Director shall terminate an investigation and decline to refer a matter to the Committee on Discipline if the OED Director determines that:

(1) The information or evidence is unfounded;

(2) The information or evidence relates to matters not within the jurisdiction of the Office;

(3) As a matter of law, the conduct about which information or evidence has been obtained does not constitute grounds for discipline, even if the conduct may involve a legal dispute; or

(4) The available evidence is insufficient to conclude that there is probable cause to believe that grounds exist for discipline.

[73 FR 47689, Aug. 14, 2008, as amended at 77 FR 45251, July 31, 2012; 78 FR 20200, Apr. 3, 2013]

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§11.23   Committee on Discipline.

(a) The USPTO Director shall appoint a Committee on Discipline. The Committee on Discipline shall consist of at least three employees of the Office. None of the Committee members shall report directly or indirectly to the OED Director or any employee designated by the USPTO Director to decide disciplinary matters. Each Committee member shall be a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of a State. The Committee members shall select a Chairperson from among themselves. Three Committee members will constitute a panel of the Committee.

(b) Powers and duties of the Committee on Discipline. The Committee shall have the power and duty to:

(1) Meet in panels at the request of the OED Director and, after reviewing evidence presented by the OED Director, by majority vote of the panel, determine whether there is probable cause to bring charges under §11.32 against a practitioner; and

(2) Prepare and forward its own probable cause findings and recommendations to the OED Director.

(c) No discovery shall be authorized of, and no member of the Committee on Discipline shall be required to testify about deliberations of, the Committee on Discipline or of any panel.

(d) The Chairperson shall appoint the members of the panels and a Contact Member of the Committee on Discipline.

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§11.24   Reciprocal discipline.

(a) Notification of OED Director. Within thirty days of being publicly censured, publicly reprimanded, subjected to probation, disbarred or suspended by another jurisdiction, or being disciplinarily disqualified from participating in or appearing before any Federal program or agency, a practitioner subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Office shall notify the OED Director in writing of the same. A practitioner is deemed to be disbarred if he or she is disbarred, excluded on consent, or has resigned in lieu of a disciplinary proceeding. Upon receiving notification from any source or otherwise learning that a practitioner subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Office has been so publicly censured, publicly reprimanded, subjected to probation, disbarred, suspended or disciplinarily disqualified, the OED Director shall obtain a certified copy of the record or order regarding the public censure, public reprimand, probation, disbarment, suspension or disciplinary disqualification and file the same with the USPTO Director. The OED Director shall, in addition, without Committee on Discipline authorization, file with the USPTO Director a complaint complying with §11.34 against the practitioner predicated upon the public censure, public reprimand, probation, disbarment, suspension or disciplinary disqualification. The OED Director shall request the USPTO Director to issue a notice and order as set forth in paragraph (b) of this section.

(b) Notification served on practitioner. Upon receipt of a certified copy of the record or order regarding the practitioner being so publicly censured, publicly reprimanded, subjected to probation, disbarred, suspended or disciplinarily disqualified together with the complaint, the USPTO Director shall issue a notice directed to the practitioner in accordance with §11.35 and to the OED Director containing:

(1) A copy of the record or order regarding the public censure, public reprimand, probation, disbarment, suspension or disciplinary disqualification;

(2) A copy of the complaint; and

(3) An order directing the practitioner to file a response with the USPTO Director and the OED Director, within forty days of the date of the notice establishing a genuine issue of material fact predicated upon the grounds set forth in paragraphs (d)(1)(i) through (d)(1)(iv) of this section that the imposition of the identical public censure, public reprimand, probation, disbarment, suspension or disciplinary disqualification would be unwarranted and the reasons for that claim.

(c) Effect of stay in another jurisdiction. In the event the public censure, public reprimand, probation, disbarment, suspension imposed by another jurisdiction or disciplinary disqualification imposed in the Federal program or agency has been stayed, any reciprocal discipline imposed by the USPTO may be deferred until the stay expires.

(d) Hearing and discipline to be imposed. (1) The USPTO Director shall hear the matter on the documentary record unless the USPTO Director determines that an oral hearing is necessary. After expiration of the forty days from the date of the notice pursuant to provisions of paragraph (b) of this section, the USPTO Director shall consider any timely filed response and shall impose the identical public censure, public reprimand, probation, disbarment, suspension or disciplinary disqualification unless the practitioner clearly and convincingly demonstrates, and the USPTO Director finds there is a genuine issue of material fact that:

(i) The procedure elsewhere was so lacking in notice or opportunity to be heard as to constitute a deprivation of due process;

(ii) There was such infirmity of proof establishing the conduct as to give rise to the clear conviction that the Office could not, consistently with its duty, accept as final the conclusion on that subject;

(iii) The imposition of the same public censure, public reprimand, probation, disbarment, suspension or disciplinary disqualification by the Office would result in grave injustice; or

(iv) Any argument that the practitioner was not publicly censured, publicly reprimanded, placed on probation, disbarred, suspended or disciplinarily disqualified.

(2) If the USPTO Director determines that there is no genuine issue of material fact, the USPTO Director shall enter an appropriate final order. If the USPTO Director is unable to make such determination because there is a genuine issue of material fact, the USPTO Director shall enter an appropriate order:

(i) Referring the complaint to a hearing officer for a formal hearing and entry of an initial decision in accordance with the other rules in this part, and

(ii) Directing the practitioner to file an answer to the complaint in accordance with §11.36.

(e) Adjudication in another jurisdiction or Federal agency or program. In all other respects, a final adjudication in another jurisdiction or Federal agency or program that a practitioner, whether or not admitted in that jurisdiction, has been guilty of misconduct shall establish a prima facie case by clear and convincing evidence that the practitioner has engaged in misconduct under §11.804.

(f) Reciprocal discipline—action where practice has ceased. Upon request by the practitioner, reciprocal discipline may be imposed nunc pro tunc only if the practitioner promptly notified the OED Director of his or her censure, public reprimand, probation, disbarment, suspension or disciplinary disqualification in another jurisdiction, and establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the practitioner voluntarily ceased all activities related to practice before the Office and complied with all provisions of §11.58. The effective date of any public censure, public reprimand, probation, suspension, disbarment or disciplinary disqualification imposed nunc pro tunc shall be the date the practitioner voluntarily ceased all activities related to practice before the Office and complied with all provisions of §11.58.

(g) Reinstatement following reciprocal discipline proceeding. A practitioner may petition for reinstatement under conditions set forth in §11.60 no sooner than completion of the period of reciprocal discipline imposed, and compliance with all provisions of §11.58.

[73 FR 47689, Aug. 14, 2008, as amended at 78 FR 20200, Apr. 3, 2013]

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§11.25   Interim suspension and discipline based upon conviction of committing a serious crime.

(a) Notification of OED Director. Upon being convicted of a crime in a court of the United States, any State, or a foreign country, a practitioner subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Office shall notify the OED Director in writing of the same within thirty days from the date of such conviction. Upon being advised or learning that a practitioner subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Office has been convicted of a crime, the OED Director shall make a preliminary determination whether the crime constitutes a serious crime warranting interim suspension. If the crime is a serious crime, the OED Director shall file with the USPTO Director proof of the conviction and request the USPTO Director to issue a notice and order set forth in paragraph (b)(2) of this section. The OED Director shall in addition, without Committee on Discipline authorization, file with the USPTO Director a complaint against the practitioner complying with §11.34 predicated upon the conviction of a serious crime. If the crime is not a serious crime, the OED Director shall process the matter in the same manner as any other information or evidence of a possible violation of any USPTO Rule of Professional Conduct coming to the attention of the OED Director.

(b) Interim suspension and referral for disciplinary proceeding. All proceedings under this section shall be handled as expeditiously as possible.

(1) The USPTO Director has authority to place a practitioner on interim suspension after hearing the request for interim suspension on the documentary record.

(2) Notification served on practitioner. Upon receipt of a certified copy of the court record, docket entry or judgment demonstrating that the practitioner has been so convicted together with the complaint, the USPTO Director shall forthwith issue a notice directed to the practitioner in accordance with §§11.35(a), (b) or (c), and to the OED Director, containing:

(i) A copy of the court record, docket entry, or judgment of conviction;

(ii) A copy of the complaint; and

(iii) An order directing the practitioner to file a response with the USPTO Director and the OED Director, within forty days of the date of the notice, establishing that there is a genuine issue of material fact that the crime did not constitute a serious crime, the practitioner is not the individual found guilty of the crime, or that the conviction was so lacking in notice or opportunity to be heard as to constitute a deprivation of due process.

(3) Hearing and final order on request for interim suspension. The request for interim suspension shall be heard by the USPTO Director on the documentary record unless the USPTO Director determines that the practitioner's response establishes a genuine issue of material fact that: The crime did not constitute a serious crime, the practitioner is not the person who committed the crime, or that the conviction was so lacking in notice or opportunity to be heard as to constitute a deprivation of due process. If the USPTO Director determines that there is no genuine issue of material fact regarding the defenses set forth in the preceding sentence, the USPTO Director shall enter an appropriate final order regarding the OED Director's request for interim suspension regardless of the pendency of any criminal appeal. If the USPTO Director is unable to make such determination because there is a genuine issue of material fact, the USPTO Director shall enter a final order dismissing the request and enter a further order referring the complaint to a hearing officer for a hearing and entry of an initial decision in accordance with the other rules in this part and directing the practitioner to file an answer to the complaint in accordance with §11.36.

(4) Termination. The USPTO Director has authority to terminate an interim suspension. In the interest of justice, the USPTO Director may terminate an interim suspension at any time upon a showing of extraordinary circumstances, after affording the OED Director an opportunity to respond to the request to terminate interim suspension.

(5) Referral for disciplinary proceeding. Upon entering a final order imposing interim suspension, the USPTO Director shall refer the complaint to a hearing officer to conduct a formal disciplinary proceeding. The formal disciplinary proceeding, however, shall be stayed by the hearing officer until all direct appeals from the conviction are concluded. Review of the initial decision of the hearing officer shall be pursuant to §11.55.

(c) Proof of conviction and guilt—(1) Conviction in the United States. For purposes of a hearing for interim suspension and a hearing on the formal charges in a complaint filed as a consequence of the conviction, a certified copy of the court record, docket entry, or judgment of conviction in a court of the United States or any State shall establish a prima facie case by clear and convincing evidence that the practitioner was convicted of a serious crime and that the conviction was not lacking in notice or opportunity to be heard as to constitute a deprivation of due process.

(2) Conviction in a foreign country. For purposes of a hearing for interim suspension and on the formal charges filed as a result of a finding of guilt, a certified copy of the court record, docket entry, or judgment of conviction in a court of a foreign country shall establish a prima facie case by clear and convincing evidence that the practitioner was convicted of a serious crime and that the conviction was not lacking in notice or opportunity to be heard as to constitute a deprivation of due process. However, nothing in this paragraph shall preclude the practitioner from demonstrating by clear and convincing evidence in any hearing on a request for interim suspension there is a genuine issue of material fact to be considered when determining if the elements of a serious crime were committed in violating the criminal law of the foreign country and whether a disciplinary sanction should be entered.

(d) Crime determined not to be serious crime. If the USPTO Director determines that the crime is not a serious crime, the complaint shall be referred to the OED Director for investigation under §11.22 and processing as is appropriate.

(e) Reinstatement—(1) Upon reversal or setting aside a finding of guilt or a conviction. If a practitioner suspended solely under the provisions of paragraph (b) of this section demonstrates that the underlying finding of guilt or conviction of serious crimes has been reversed or vacated, the order for interim suspension shall be vacated and the practitioner shall be placed on active status unless the finding of guilt was reversed or the conviction was set aside with respect to less than all serious crimes for which the practitioner was found guilty or convicted. The vacating of the interim suspension will not terminate any other disciplinary proceeding then pending against the practitioner, the disposition of which shall be determined by the hearing officer before whom the matter is pending, on the basis of all available evidence other than the finding of guilt or conviction.

(2) Following conviction of a serious crime. Any practitioner convicted of a serious crime and disciplined in whole or in part in regard to that conviction, may petition for reinstatement under conditions set forth in §11.60 no sooner than five years after being discharged following completion of service of his or her sentence, or after completion of service under probation or parole, whichever is later.

(f) Notice to clients and others of interim suspension. An interim suspension under this section shall constitute a suspension of the practitioner for the purpose of §11.58.

[73 FR 47689, Aug. 14, 2008, as amended at 78 FR 20200, Apr. 3, 2013]

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§11.26   Settlement.

Before or after a complaint under §11.34 is filed, a settlement conference may occur between the OED Director and the practitioner. Any offers of compromise and any statements made during the course of settlement discussions shall not be admissible in subsequent proceedings. The OED Director may recommend to the USPTO Director any settlement terms deemed appropriate, including steps taken to correct or mitigate the matter forming the basis of the action, or to prevent recurrence of the same or similar conduct. A settlement agreement shall be effective only upon entry of a final decision by the USPTO Director.

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§11.27   Exclusion on consent.

(a) Required affidavit. The OED Director may confer with a practitioner concerning possible violations by the practitioner of the Rules of Professional Conduct whether or not a disciplinary proceeding has been instituted. A practitioner who is the subject of an investigation or a pending disciplinary proceeding based on allegations of grounds for discipline, and who desires to resign, may only do so by consenting to exclusion and delivering to the OED Director an affidavit declaring the consent of the practitioner to exclusion and stating:

(1) That the practitioner's consent is freely and voluntarily rendered, that the practitioner is not being subjected to coercion or duress, and that the practitioner is fully aware of the implications of consenting to exclusion;

(2) That the practitioner is aware that there is currently pending an investigation into, or a proceeding involving allegations of misconduct, the nature of which shall be specifically set forth in the affidavit to the satisfaction of the OED Director;

(3) That the practitioner acknowledges that, if and when he or she applies for reinstatement under §11.60, the OED Director will conclusively presume, for the limited purpose of determining the application for reinstatement, that:

(i) The facts upon which the investigation or complaint is based are true, and

(ii) The practitioner could not have successfully defended himself or herself against the allegations in the investigation or charges in the complaint.

(b) Action by the USPTO Director. Upon receipt of the required affidavit, the OED Director shall file the affidavit and any related papers with the USPTO Director for review and approval. Upon such approval, the USPTO Director will enter an order excluding the practitioner on consent and providing other appropriate actions. Upon entry of the order, the excluded practitioner shall comply with the requirements set forth in §11.58.

(c) When an affidavit under paragraph (a) of this section is received after a complaint under §11.34 has been filed, the OED Director shall notify the hearing officer. The hearing officer shall enter an order transferring the disciplinary proceeding to the USPTO Director, who may enter an order excluding the practitioner on consent.

(d) Reinstatement. Any practitioner excluded on consent under this section may not petition for reinstatement for five years. A practitioner excluded on consent who intends to reapply for admission to practice before the Office must comply with the provisions of §11.58, and apply for reinstatement in accordance with §11.60. Failure to comply with the provisions of §11.58 constitutes grounds for denying an application for reinstatement.

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§11.28   Incapacitated practitioners in a disciplinary proceeding.

(a) Holding in abeyance a disciplinary proceeding because of incapacitation due to a current disability or addiction—(1) Practitioner's motion. In the course of a disciplinary proceeding under §11.32, but before the date set by the hearing officer for a hearing, the practitioner may file a motion requesting the hearing officer to enter an order holding such proceeding in abeyance based on the contention that 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.

(i) Content of practitioner's motion. The practitioner's motion shall, in addition to any other requirement of §11.43, include or have attached thereto:

(A) A brief statement of all material facts;

(B) Affidavits, medical reports, official records, or other documents and the opinion of at least one medical expert setting forth and establishing any of the material facts on which the practitioner is relying;

(C) A statement that the practitioner acknowledges the alleged incapacity by reason of disability or addiction;

(D) Written consent that the practitioner be transferred to disability inactive status if the motion is granted; and

(E) A written agreement by the practitioner to not practice before the Office in patent, trademark or other non-patent cases while on disability inactive status.

(ii) Response. The OED Director's response to any motion hereunder shall be served and filed within thirty days after service of the practitioner's motion unless such time is shortened or enlarged by the hearing officer for good cause shown, and shall set forth the following:

(A) All objections, if any, to the actions requested in the motion;

(B) An admission, denial or allegation of lack of knowledge with respect to each of the material facts in the practitioner's motion and accompanying documents; and

(C) Affidavits, medical reports, official records, or other documents setting forth facts on which the OED Director intends to rely for purposes of disputing or denying any material fact set forth in the practitioner's papers.

(2) Disposition of practitioner's motion. The hearing officer shall decide the motion and any response thereto. The motion shall be granted upon a showing of good cause to believe the practitioner to be incapacitated as alleged. If the required showing is made, the hearing officer shall enter an order holding the disciplinary proceeding in abeyance. In the case of addiction to drugs or intoxicants, the order may provide that the practitioner will not be returned to active status absent satisfaction of specified conditions. Upon receipt of the order, the OED Director shall transfer the practitioner to disability inactive status, give notice to the practitioner, cause notice to be published, and give notice to appropriate authorities in the Office that the practitioner has been placed on disability inactive status. The practitioner shall comply with the provisions of §11.58, and shall not engage in practice before the Office in patent, trademark and other non-patent law until a determination is made of the practitioner's capability to resume practice before the Office in a proceeding under paragraph (c) or paragraph (d) of this section. A practitioner on disability inactive status must seek permission from the OED Director to engage in an activity authorized under §11.58(e). Permission will be granted only if the practitioner has complied with all the conditions of §§11.58(a) through 11.58(d) applicable to disability inactive status. In the event that permission is granted, the practitioner shall fully comply with the provisions of §11.58(e).

(b) Motion for reactivation. Any practitioner transferred to disability inactive status in a disciplinary proceeding may file with the hearing officer a motion for reactivation once a year beginning at any time not less than one year after the initial effective date of inactivation, or once during any shorter interval provided by the order issued pursuant to paragraph (a)(2) of this section or any modification thereof. If the motion is granted, the disciplinary proceeding shall resume under such schedule as may be established by the hearing officer.

(c) Contents of motion for reactivation. A motion by the practitioner for reactivation alleging that a practitioner has recovered from a prior disability or addiction shall be accompanied by all available medical reports or similar documents relating thereto. The hearing officer may require the practitioner to present such other information as is necessary.

(d) OED Director's motion to resume disciplinary proceeding held in abeyance. (1) The OED Director, having good cause to believe a practitioner is no longer incapacitated, may file a motion requesting the hearing officer to terminate a prior order holding in abeyance any pending proceeding because of the practitioner's disability or addiction. The hearing officer shall decide the matter presented by the OED Director's motion hereunder based on the affidavits and other admissible evidence attached to the OED Director's motion and the practitioner's response. The OED Director bears the burden of showing by clear and convincing evidence that the practitioner is able to defend himself or herself. If there is any genuine issue as to one or more material facts, the hearing officer will hold an evidentiary hearing.

(2) The hearing officer, upon receipt of the OED Director's motion under paragraph (d)(1) of this section, may direct the practitioner to file a response. If the hearing officer requires the practitioner to file a response, the practitioner must present clear and convincing evidence that the prior self-alleged disability or addiction continues to make it impossible for the practitioner to defend himself or herself in the underlying proceeding being held in abeyance.

(e) Action by the hearing officer. If, in deciding a motion under paragraph (b) or (d) of this section, the hearing officer determines that there is good cause to believe the practitioner is not incapacitated from defending himself or herself, or is not incapacitated from practicing before the Office, the hearing officer shall take such action as is deemed appropriate, including the entry of an order directing the reactivation of the practitioner and resumption of the disciplinary proceeding.

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§11.29   Reciprocal transfer or initial transfer to disability inactive status.

(a) Notification of OED Director. (1) Transfer to disability inactive status in another jurisdiction as grounds for reciprocal transfer by the Office. Within thirty days of being transferred to disability inactive status in another jurisdiction, a practitioner subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Office shall notify the OED Director in writing of the transfer. Upon notification from any source that a practitioner subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Office has been transferred to disability inactive status in another jurisdiction, the OED Director shall obtain a certified copy of the order. The OED Director shall file with the USPTO Director:

(i) The order;

(ii) A request that the practitioner be transferred to disability inactive status, including the specific grounds therefor; and

(iii) A request that the USPTO Director issue a notice and order as set forth in paragraph (b) of this section.

(2) Involuntary commitment, adjudication of incompetency or court ordered placement under guardianship or conservatorship as grounds for initial transfer to disability inactive status. Within thirty days of being judicially declared incompetent, being judicially ordered to be involuntarily committed after a hearing on the grounds of incompetency or disability, or being placed by court order under guardianship or conservatorship in another jurisdiction, a practitioner subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Office shall notify the OED Director in writing of such judicial action. Upon notification from any source that a practitioner subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Office has been subject to such judicial action, the OED Director shall obtain a certified copy of the order. The OED Director shall file with the USPTO Director:

(i) The order;

(ii) A request that the practitioner be transferred to disability inactive status, including the specific grounds therefor; and

(iii) A request that the USPTO Director issue a notice and order as set forth in paragraph (b) of this section.

(b) Notice served on practitioner. Upon receipt of a certified copy of an order or declaration issued by another jurisdiction demonstrating that a practitioner subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Office has been transferred to disability inactive status, judicially declared incompetent, judicially ordered to be involuntarily committed after a judicial hearing on the grounds of incompetency or disability, or placed by court order under guardianship or conservatorship, together with the OED Director's request, the USPTO Director shall issue a notice, comporting with §11.35, directed to the practitioner containing:

(1) A copy of the order or declaration from the other jurisdiction,

(2) A copy of the OED Director's request; and

(3) An order directing the practitioner to file a response with the USPTO Director and the OED Director, within 30 days from the date of the notice, establishing a genuine issue of material fact supported by an affidavit and predicated upon the grounds set forth in §11.29(d) (1) through (4) that a transfer to disability inactive status would be unwarranted and the reasons therefor.

(c) Effect of stay of transfer, judicially declared incompetence, judicially ordered involuntarily commitment on the grounds of incompetency or disability, or court-ordered placement under guardianship or conservatorship. In the event the transfer, judicially declared incompetence, judicially ordered involuntary commitment on the grounds of incompetency or disability, or court-ordered placement under guardianship or conservatorship in the other jurisdiction has been stayed there, any reciprocal transfer or transfer by the Office may be deferred until the stay expires.

(d) Hearing and transfer to disability inactive status. The request for transfer to disability inactive status shall be heard by the USPTO Director on the documentary record unless the USPTO Director determines that there is a genuine issue of material fact, in which case the USPTO Director may deny the request. Upon the expiration of 30 days from the date of the notice pursuant to the provisions of paragraph (b) of this section, the USPTO Director shall consider any timely filed response and impose the identical transfer to disability inactive status based on the practitioner's transfer to disability status in another jurisdiction, or shall transfer the practitioner to disability inactive status based on judicially declared incompetence, judicially ordered involuntary commitment on the grounds of incompetency or disability, or court-ordered placement under guardianship or conservatorship, unless the practitioner demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence, or the USPTO Director finds there is a genuine issue of material fact by clear and convincing evidence that:

(1) The procedure was so lacking in notice or opportunity to be heard as to constitute a deprivation of due process;

(2) There was such infirmity of proof establishing the transfer to disability status, judicial declaration of incompetence, judicial order for involuntary commitment on the grounds of incompetency or disability, or placement by court order under guardianship or conservatorship that the USPTO Director could not, consistent with Office's duty, accept as final the conclusion on that subject;

(3) The imposition of the same disability status or transfer to disability status by the USPTO Director would result in grave injustice; or

(4) The practitioner is not the individual transferred to disability status, judicially declared incompetent, judicially ordered for involuntary commitment on the grounds of incompetency or disability, or placed by court order under guardianship or conservatorship.

(5) If the USPTO Director determines that there is no genuine issue of material fact with regard to any of the elements of paragraphs (d)(1) through (4) of this section, the USPTO Director shall enter an appropriate final order. If the USPTO Director is unable to make that determination because there is a genuine issue of material fact, the USPTO Director shall enter an appropriate order dismissing the OED Director's request for such reason.

(e) Adjudication in other jurisdiction. In all other aspects, a final adjudication in another jurisdiction that a practitioner be transferred to disability inactive status, is judicially declared incompetent, is judicially ordered to be involuntarily committed on the grounds of incompetency or disability, or is placed by court order under guardianship or conservatorship shall establish the disability for purposes of a reciprocal transfer to or transfer to disability status before the Office.

(f) A practitioner who is transferred to disability inactive status under this section shall be deemed to have been refused recognition to practice before the Office for purposes of 35 U.S.C. 32.

(g) Order imposing reciprocal transfer to disability inactive status or order imposing initial transfer to disability inactive status. An order by the USPTO Director imposing reciprocal transfer to disability inactive status, or transferring a practitioner to disability inactive status shall be effective immediately, and shall be for an indefinite period until further order of the USPTO Director. A copy of the order transferring a practitioner to disability inactive status shall be served upon the practitioner, the practitioner's guardian, and/or the director of the institution to which the practitioner has been committed in the manner the USPTO Director may direct. A practitioner reciprocally transferred or transferred to disability inactive status shall comply with the provisions of §11.58, and shall not engage in practice before the Office in patent, trademark and other non-patent law unless and until reinstated to active status.

(h) Confidentiality of proceeding; Orders to be public—(1) Confidentiality of proceeding. All proceedings under this section involving allegations of disability of a practitioner shall be kept confidential until and unless the USPTO Director enters an order reciprocally transferring or transferring the practitioner to disability inactive status.

(2) Orders to be public. The OED Director shall publicize any reciprocal transfer to disability inactive status or transfer to disability inactive status in the same manner as for the imposition of public discipline.

(i) Employment of practitioners on disability inactive status. A practitioner on disability inactive status must seek permission from the OED Director to engage in an activity authorized under §11.58(e). Permission will be granted only if the practitioner has complied with all the conditions of §§11.58(a) through 11.58(d) applicable to disability inactive status. In the event that permission is granted, the practitioner shall fully comply with the provisions of §11.58(e).

(j) Reinstatement from disability inactive status. (1) Generally. No practitioner reciprocally transferred or transferred to disability inactive status under this section may resume active status except by order of the OED Director.

(2) Petition. A practitioner reciprocally transferred or transferred to disability inactive status shall be entitled to petition the OED Director for transfer to active status once a year, or at whatever shorter intervals the USPTO Director may direct in the order transferring or reciprocally transferring the practitioner to disability inactive status or any modification thereof.

(3) Examination. Upon the filing of a petition for transfer to active status, the OED Director may take or direct whatever action is deemed necessary or proper to determine whether the incapacity has been removed, including a direction for an examination of the practitioner by qualified medical or psychological experts designated by the OED Director. The expense of the examination shall be paid and borne by the practitioner.

(4) Required disclosure, waiver of privilege. With the filing of a petition for reinstatement to active status, the practitioner shall be required to disclose the name of each psychiatrist, psychologist, physician and hospital or other institution by whom or in which the practitioner has been examined or treated for the disability since the transfer to disability inactive status. The practitioner shall furnish to the OED Director written consent to the release of information and records relating to the incapacity if requested by the OED Director.

(5) Learning in the law, examination. The OED Director may direct that the practitioner establish proof of competence and learning in law, which proof may include passing the registration examination.

(6) Granting of petition for transfer to active status. The OED Director shall grant the petition for transfer to active status upon a showing by clear and convincing evidence that the incapacity has been removed.

(7) Reinstatement in other jurisdiction. If a practitioner is reciprocally transferred to disability inactive status on the basis of a transfer to disability inactive status in another jurisdiction, the OED Director may dispense with further evidence that the disability has been removed and may immediately direct reinstatement to active status upon such terms as are deemed proper and advisable.

(8) Judicial declaration of competency. If a practitioner is transferred to disability inactive status on the basis of a judicially declared incompetence, judicially ordered involuntary commitment on the grounds of incompetency or disability, or court-ordered placement under guardianship or conservatorship has been declared to be competent, the OED Director may dispense with further evidence that the incapacity to practice law has been removed and may immediately direct reinstatement to active status.

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§§11.30-11.31   [Reserved]

§11.32   Instituting a disciplinary proceeding.

If after conducting an investigation under §11.22(a), the OED Director is of the opinion that grounds exist for discipline under §11.19(b), the OED Director, after complying where necessary with the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 558(c), may convene a meeting of a panel of the Committee on Discipline. If convened, the panel of the Committee on Discipline shall then determine as specified in §11.23(b) whether there is probable cause to bring disciplinary charges. If the panel of the Committee on Discipline determines that probable cause exists to bring charges, the OED Director may institute a disciplinary proceeding by filing a complaint under §11.34.

[78 FR 20201, Apr. 3, 2013]

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§11.33   [Reserved]

§11.34   Complaint.

(a) A complaint instituting a disciplinary proceeding shall:

(1) Name the person who is the subject of the complaint who may then be referred to as the “respondent”;

(2) Give a plain and concise description of the respondent's alleged grounds for discipline;

(3) State the place and time, not less than thirty days from the date the complaint is filed, for filing an answer by the respondent;

(4) State that a decision by default may be entered if an answer is not timely filed by the respondent; and

(5) Be signed by the OED Director.

(b) A complaint will be deemed sufficient if it fairly informs the respondent of any grounds for discipline, and where applicable, the USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct that form the basis for the disciplinary proceeding so that the respondent is able to adequately prepare a defense.

(c) The complaint shall be filed in the manner prescribed by the USPTO Director.

(d) Time for filing a complaint. A complaint shall be filed within one year after the date on which the OED Director receives a grievance forming the basis of the complaint. No complaint shall be filed more than ten years after the date on which the misconduct forming the basis for the proceeding occurred.

(e) Tolling agreements. The one-year period for filing a complaint under paragraph (d) of this section shall be tolled if the involved practitioner and the OED Director agree in writing to such tolling.

[73 FR 47689, Aug. 14, 2008, as amended at 77 FR 45251, July 31, 2012; 78 FR 20201, Apr. 3, 2013]

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§11.35   Service of complaint.

(a) A complaint may be served on a respondent in any of the following methods:

(1) By delivering a copy of the complaint personally to the respondent, in which case the individual who gives the complaint to the respondent shall file an affidavit with the OED Director indicating the time and place the complaint was delivered to the respondent.

(2) By mailing a copy of the complaint by Priority Mail Express®, first-class mail, or any delivery service that provides ability to confirm delivery or attempted delivery to:

(i) A respondent who is a registered practitioner at the address provided to OED pursuant to §11.11, or

(ii) A respondent who is not registered at the last address for the respondent known to the OED Director.

(3) By any method mutually agreeable to the OED Director and the respondent.

(4) In the case of a respondent who resides outside the United States, by sending a copy of the complaint by any delivery service that provides ability to confirm delivery or attempted delivery, to:

(i) A respondent who is a registered practitioner at the address provided to OED pursuant to §11.11; or

(ii) A respondent who is not registered at the last address for the respondent known to the OED Director.

(b) If a copy of the complaint cannot be delivered to the respondent through any one of the procedures in paragraph (a) of this section, the OED Director shall serve the respondent by causing an appropriate notice to be published in the Official Gazette for two consecutive weeks, in which case, the time for filing an answer shall be thirty days from the second publication of the notice. Failure to timely file an answer will constitute an admission of the allegations in the complaint in accordance with paragraph (d) of §11.36, and the hearing officer may enter an initial decision on default.

(c) If the respondent is known to the OED Director to be represented by an attorney under §11.40(a), a copy of the complaint shall be served on the attorney in lieu of service on the respondent in the manner provided for in paragraph (a) or (b) of this section.

[73 FR 47689, Aug. 14, 2008, as amended at 78 FR 20201, Apr. 3, 2013; 79 FR 63042, Oct. 22, 2014]

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§11.36   Answer to complaint.

(a) Time for answer. An answer to a complaint shall be filed within the time set in the complaint but in no event shall that time be less than thirty days from the date the complaint is filed.

(b) With whom filed. The answer shall be filed in writing with the hearing officer at the address specified in the complaint. The hearing officer may extend the time for filing an answer once for a period of no more than thirty days upon a showing of good cause, provided a motion requesting an extension of time is filed within thirty days after the date the complaint is served on respondent. A copy of the answer, and any exhibits or attachments thereto, shall be served on the OED Director.

(c) Content. The respondent shall include in the answer a statement of the facts that constitute the grounds of defense and shall specifically admit or deny each allegation set forth in the complaint. The respondent shall not deny a material allegation in the complaint that the respondent knows to be true or state that respondent is without sufficient information to form a belief as to the truth of an allegation, when in fact the respondent possesses that information. The respondent shall also state affirmatively in the answer special matters of defense and any intent to raise a disability as a mitigating factor. If respondent intends to raise a special matter of defense or disability, the answer shall specify the defense or disability, its nexus to the misconduct, and the reason it provides a defense or mitigation. A respondent who fails to do so cannot rely on a special matter of defense or disability. The hearing officer may, for good cause, allow the respondent to file the statement late, grant additional hearing preparation time, or make other appropriate orders.

(d) Failure to deny allegations in complaint. Every allegation in the complaint that is not denied by a respondent in the answer shall be deemed to be admitted and may be considered proven. The hearing officer at any hearing need receive no further evidence with respect to that allegation.

(e) Default judgment. Failure to timely file an answer will constitute an admission of the allegations in the complaint and may result in entry of default judgment.

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§11.37   [Reserved]

§11.38   Contested case.

Upon the filing of an answer by the respondent, a disciplinary proceeding shall be regarded as a contested case within the meaning of 35 U.S.C. 24. Evidence obtained by a subpoena issued under 35 U.S.C. 24 shall not be admitted into the record or considered unless leave to proceed under 35 U.S.C. 24 was previously authorized by the hearing officer.

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§11.39   Hearing officer; appointment; responsibilities; review of interlocutory orders; stays.

(a) Appointment. A hearing officer, appointed by the USPTO Director under 5 U.S.C. 3105 or 35 U.S.C. 32, shall conduct disciplinary proceedings as provided by this Part.

(b) Independence of the Hearing Officer. (1) A hearing officer appointed in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section shall not be subject to first level or second level supervision by either the USPTO Director or OED Director, or his or her designee.

(2) A hearing officer appointed in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section shall not be subject to supervision of the person(s) investigating or prosecuting the case.

(3) A hearing officer appointed in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section shall be impartial, shall not be an individual who has participated in any manner in the decision to initiate the proceedings, and shall not have been employed under the immediate supervision of the practitioner.

(4) A hearing officer appointed in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section shall be admitted to practice law and have suitable experience and training conducting hearings, reaching a determination, and rendering an initial decision in an equitable manner.

(c) Responsibilities. The hearing officer shall have authority, consistent with specific provisions of these regulations, to:

(1) Administer oaths and affirmations;

(2) Make rulings upon motions and other requests;

(3) Rule upon offers of proof, receive relevant evidence, and examine witnesses;

(4) Authorize the taking of a deposition of a witness in lieu of personal appearance of the witness before the hearing officer;

(5) Determine the time and place of any hearing and regulate its course and conduct;

(6) Hold or provide for the holding of conferences to settle or simplify the issues;

(7) Receive and consider oral or written arguments on facts or law;

(8) Adopt procedures and modify procedures for the orderly disposition of proceedings;

(9) Make initial decisions under §§11.25 and 11.54; and

(10) Perform acts and take measures as necessary to promote the efficient, timely, and impartial conduct of any disciplinary proceeding.

(d) Time for making initial decision. The hearing officer shall set times and exercise control over a disciplinary proceeding such that an initial decision under §11.54 is normally issued within nine months of the date a complaint is filed. The hearing officer may, however, issue an initial decision more than nine months after a complaint is filed if there exist circumstances, in his or her opinion, that preclude issuance of an initial decision within nine months of the filing of the complaint.

(e) Review of interlocutory orders. The USPTO Director will not review an interlocutory order of a hearing officer except:

(1) When the hearing officer shall be of the opinion:

(i) That the interlocutory order involves a controlling question of procedure or law as to which there is a substantial ground for a difference of opinion, and

(ii) That an immediate decision by the USPTO Director may materially advance the ultimate termination of the disciplinary proceeding, or

(2) In an extraordinary situation where the USPTO Director deems that justice requires review.

(f) Stays pending review of interlocutory order. If the OED Director or a respondent seeks review of an interlocutory order of a hearing officer under paragraph (b)(2) of this section, any time period set by the hearing officer for taking action shall not be stayed unless ordered by the USPTO Director or the hearing officer.

(g) The hearing officer shall engage in no ex parte discussions with any party on the merits of the complaint, beginning with appointment and ending when the final agency decision is issued.

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§11.40   Representative for OED Director or respondent.

(a) A respondent may represent himself or herself, or be represented by an attorney before the Office in connection with an investigation or disciplinary proceeding. The attorney shall file a written declaration that he or she is an attorney within the meaning of §11.1 and shall state:

(1) The address to which the attorney wants correspondence related to the investigation or disciplinary proceeding sent, and

(2) A telephone number where the attorney may be reached during normal business hours.

(b) The Deputy General Counsel for Intellectual Property and Solicitor, and attorneys in the Office of the Solicitor shall represent the OED Director. The attorneys representing the OED Director in disciplinary proceedings shall not consult with the USPTO Director, the General Counsel, the Deputy General Counsel for General Law, or an individual designated by the USPTO Director to decide disciplinary matters regarding the proceeding. The General Counsel and the Deputy General Counsel for General Law shall remain screened from the investigation and prosecution of all disciplinary proceedings in order that they shall be available as counsel to the USPTO Director in deciding disciplinary proceedings unless access is appropriate to perform their duties. After a final decision is entered in a disciplinary proceeding, the OED Director and attorneys representing the OED Director shall be available to counsel the USPTO Director, the General Counsel, and the Deputy General Counsel for General Law in any further proceedings.

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§11.41   Filing of papers.

(a) The provisions of §§1.8 and 2.197 of this subchapter do not apply to disciplinary proceedings. All papers filed after the complaint and prior to entry of an initial decision by the hearing officer shall be filed with the hearing officer at an address or place designated by the hearing officer.

(b) All papers filed after entry of an initial decision by the hearing officer shall be filed with the USPTO Director. A copy of the paper shall be served on the OED Director. The hearing officer or the OED Director may provide for filing papers and other matters by hand, by Priority Mail Express®, or by other means.

[69 FR 35452, June 24, 2004, as amended at 79 FR 63042, Oct. 22, 2014]

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§11.42   Service of papers.

(a) All papers other than a complaint shall be served on a respondent who is represented by an attorney by:

(1) Delivering a copy of the paper to the office of the attorney; or

(2) Mailing a copy of the paper by first-class mail, Priority Mail Express®, or other delivery service to the attorney at the address provided by the attorney under §11.40(a)(1); or

(3) Any other method mutually agreeable to the attorney and a representative for the OED Director.

(b) All papers other than a complaint shall be served on a respondent who is not represented by an attorney by:

(1) Delivering a copy of the paper to the respondent; or

(2) Mailing a copy of the paper by first-class mail, Priority Mail Express®, or other delivery service to the respondent at the address to which a complaint may be served or such other address as may be designated in writing by the respondent; or

(3) Any other method mutually agreeable to the respondent and a representative for the OED Director.

(c) A respondent shall serve on the representative for the OED Director one copy of each paper filed with the hearing officer or the OED Director. A paper may be served on the representative for the OED Director by:

(1) Delivering a copy of the paper to the representative; or

(2) Mailing a copy of the paper by first-class mail, Priority Mail Express®, or other delivery service to an address designated in writing by the representative; or

(3) Any other method mutually agreeable to the respondent and the representative.

(d) Each paper filed in a disciplinary proceeding shall contain therein a certificate of service indicating:

(1) The date on which service was made; and

(2) The method by which service was made.

(e) The hearing officer or the USPTO Director may require that a paper be served by hand or by Priority Mail Express®.

(f) Service by mail is completed when the paper mailed in the United States is placed into the custody of the U.S. Postal Service.

[79 FR 63042, Oct. 22, 2014]

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§11.43   Motions.

Motions, including all prehearing motions commonly filed under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, shall be filed with the hearing officer. The hearing officer will determine whether replies to responses will be authorized and the time period for filing such a response. No motion shall be filed with the hearing officer unless such motion is supported by a written statement by the moving party that the moving party or attorney for the moving party has conferred with the opposing party or attorney for the opposing party in an effort in good faith to resolve by agreement the issues raised by the motion and has been unable to reach agreement. If, prior to a decision on the motion, the parties resolve issues raised by a motion presented to the hearing officer, the parties shall promptly notify the hearing officer.

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§11.44   Hearings.

(a) The hearing officer shall preside over hearings in disciplinary proceedings. The hearing officer shall set the time and place for the hearing. In cases involving an incarcerated respondent, any necessary oral hearing may be held at the location of incarceration. Oral hearings will be stenographically recorded and transcribed, and the testimony of witnesses will be received under oath or affirmation. The hearing officer shall conduct the hearing as if the proceeding were subject to 5 U.S.C. 556. A copy of the transcript of the hearing shall become part of the record. A copy of the transcript shall be provided to the OED Director and the respondent at the expense of the Office.

(b) If the respondent to a disciplinary proceeding fails to appear at the hearing after a notice of hearing has been given by the hearing officer, the hearing officer may deem the respondent to have waived the right to a hearing and may proceed with the hearing in the absence of the respondent.

(c) A hearing under this section will not be open to the public except that the hearing officer may grant a request by a respondent to open his or her hearing to the public and make the record of the disciplinary proceeding available for public inspection, provided, a protective order is entered to exclude from public disclosure information which is privileged or confidential under applicable laws or regulations.

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§11.45   Amendment of pleadings.

The OED Director may, without Committee on Discipline authorization, but with the authorization of the hearing officer, amend the complaint to include additional charges based upon conduct committed before or after the complaint was filed. If amendment of the complaint is authorized, the hearing officer shall authorize amendment of the answer. Any party who would otherwise be prejudiced by the amendment will be given reasonable opportunity to meet the allegations in the complaint or answer as amended, and the hearing officer shall make findings on any issue presented by the complaint or answer as amended.

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§§11.46-11.48   [Reserved]

§11.49   Burden of proof.

In a disciplinary proceeding, the OED Director shall have the burden of proving the violation by clear and convincing evidence and a respondent shall have the burden of proving any affirmative defense by clear and convincing evidence.

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§11.50   Evidence.

(a) Rules of evidence. The rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law and equity are not controlling in hearings in disciplinary proceedings. However, the hearing officer shall exclude evidence that is irrelevant, immaterial, or unduly repetitious.

(b) Depositions. Depositions of witnesses taken pursuant to §11.51 may be admitted as evidence.

(c) Government documents. Official documents, records, and papers of the Office, including, but not limited to, all papers in the file of a disciplinary investigation, are admissible without extrinsic evidence of authenticity. These documents, records, and papers may be evidenced by a copy certified as correct by an employee of the Office.

(d) Exhibits. If any document, record, or other paper is introduced in evidence as an exhibit, the hearing officer may authorize the withdrawal of the exhibit subject to any conditions the hearing officer deems appropriate.

(e) Objections. Objections to evidence will be in short form, stating the grounds of objection. Objections and rulings on objections will be a part of the record. No exception to the ruling is necessary to preserve the rights of the parties.

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§11.51   Depositions.

(a) Depositions for use at the hearing in lieu of personal appearance of a witness before the hearing officer may be taken by respondent or the OED Director upon a showing of good cause and with the approval of, and under such conditions as may be deemed appropriate by, the hearing officer. Depositions may be taken upon oral or written questions, upon not less than ten days' written notice to the other party, before any officer authorized to administer an oath or affirmation in the place where the deposition is to be taken. The parties may waive the requirement of ten days' notice and depositions may then be taken of a witness at a time and place mutually agreed to by the parties. When a deposition is taken upon written questions, copies of the written questions will be served upon the other party with the notice, and copies of any written cross-questions will be served by hand or Priority Mail Express® not less than five days before the date of the taking of the deposition unless the parties mutually agree otherwise. A party on whose behalf a deposition is taken shall file a copy of a transcript of the deposition signed by a court reporter with the hearing officer and shall serve one copy upon the opposing party. Expenses for a court reporter and preparing, serving, and filing depositions shall be borne by the party at whose instance the deposition is taken. Depositions may not be taken to obtain discovery, except as provided for in paragraph (b) of this section.

(b) When the OED Director and the respondent agree in writing, a deposition of any witness who will appear voluntarily may be taken under such terms and conditions as may be mutually agreeable to the OED Director and the respondent. The deposition shall not be filed with the hearing officer and may not be admitted in evidence before the hearing officer unless he or she orders the deposition admitted in evidence. The admissibility of the deposition shall lie within the discretion of the hearing officer who may reject the deposition on any reasonable basis including the fact that demeanor is involved and that the witness should have been called to appear personally before the hearing officer.

[69 FR 35452, June 24, 2004, as amended at 79 FR 63043, Oct. 22, 2014]

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§11.52   Discovery.

Discovery shall not be authorized except as follows:

(a) After an answer is filed under §11.36 and when a party establishes that discovery is reasonable and relevant, the hearing officer, under such conditions as he or she deems appropriate, may order an opposing party to:

(1) Answer a reasonable number of written requests for admission or interrogatories;

(2) Produce for inspection and copying a reasonable number of documents; and

(3) Produce for inspection a reasonable number of things other than documents.

(b) Discovery shall not be authorized under paragraph (a) of this section of any matter which:

(1) Will be used by another party solely for impeachment;

(2) Is not available to the party under 35 U.S.C. 122;

(3) Relates to any other disciplinary proceeding;

(4) Relates to experts except as the hearing officer may require under paragraph (e) of this section;

(5) Is privileged; or

(6) Relates to mental impressions, conclusions, opinions, or legal theories of any attorney or other representative of a party.

(c) The hearing officer may deny discovery requested under paragraph (a) of this section if the discovery sought:

(1) Will unduly delay the disciplinary proceeding;

(2) Will place an undue burden on the party required to produce the discovery sought; or

(3) Consists of information that is available:

(i) Generally to the public;

(ii) Equally to the parties; or

(iii) To the party seeking the discovery through another source.

(d) Prior to authorizing discovery under paragraph (a) of this section, the hearing officer shall require the party seeking discovery to file a motion (§11.43) and explain in detail, for each request made, how the discovery sought is reasonable and relevant to an issue actually raised in the complaint or the answer.

(e) The hearing officer may require parties to file and serve, prior to any hearing, a pre-hearing statement that contains:

(1) A list (together with a copy) of all proposed exhibits to be used in connection with a party's case-in-chief;

(2) A list of proposed witnesses;

(3) As to each proposed expert witness:

(i) An identification of the field in which the individual will be qualified as an expert;

(ii) A statement as to the subject matter on which the expert is expected to testify; and

(iii) A statement of the substance of the facts and opinions to which the expert is expected to testify;

(4) Copies of memoranda reflecting respondent's own statements to administrative representatives.

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§11.53   Proposed findings and conclusions; post-hearing memorandum.

Except in cases in which the respondent has failed to answer the complaint or amended complaint, the hearing officer, prior to making an initial decision, shall afford the parties a reasonable opportunity to submit proposed findings and conclusions and a post-hearing memorandum in support of the proposed findings and conclusions.

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§11.54   Initial decision of hearing officer.

(a) The hearing officer shall make an initial decision in the case. The decision will include:

(1) A statement of findings of fact and conclusions of law, as well as the reasons or bases for those findings and conclusions with appropriate references to the record, upon all the material issues of fact, law, or discretion presented on the record, and

(2) An order of default judgment, of suspension or exclusion from practice, of reprimand, of probation or an order dismissing the complaint. The order also may impose any conditions deemed appropriate under the circumstances. The hearing officer shall transmit a copy of the decision to the OED Director and to the respondent. After issuing the decision, the hearing officer shall transmit the entire record to the OED Director. In the absence of an appeal to the USPTO Director, the decision of the hearing officer, including a default judgment, will, without further proceedings, become the decision of the USPTO Director thirty days from the date of the decision of the hearing officer.

(b) The initial decision of the hearing officer shall explain the reason for any default judgment, reprimand, suspension, exclusion, or probation, and shall explain any conditions imposed with discipline. In determining any sanction, the following four factors must be considered if they are applicable:

(1) Whether the practitioner has violated a duty owed to a client, to the public, to the legal system, or to the profession;

(2) Whether the practitioner acted intentionally, knowingly, or negligently;

(3) The amount of the actual or potential injury caused by the practitioner's misconduct; and

(4) The existence of any aggravating or mitigating factors.

[73 FR 47689, Aug. 14, 2008, as amended at 78 FR 20201, Apr. 3, 2013]

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§11.55   Appeal to the USPTO Director.

(a) Within thirty days after the date of the initial decision of the hearing officer under §§11.25 or 11.54, either party may appeal to the USPTO Director. The appeal shall include the appellant's brief. If more than one appeal is filed, the party who files the appeal first is the appellant for purpose of this rule. If appeals are filed on the same day, the respondent is the appellant. If an appeal is filed, then the OED Director shall transmit the entire record to the USPTO Director. Any cross-appeal shall be filed within fourteen days after the date of service of the appeal pursuant to §11.42, or thirty days after the date of the initial decision of the hearing officer, whichever is later. The cross-appeal shall include the cross-appellant's brief. Any appellee or cross-appellee brief must be filed within thirty days after the date of service pursuant to §11.42 of an appeal or cross-appeal. Any reply brief must be filed within fourteen days after the date of service of any appellee or cross-appellee brief.

(b) An appeal or cross-appeal must include exceptions to the decisions of the hearing officer and supporting reasons for those exceptions. Any exception not raised will be deemed to have been waived and will be disregarded by the USPTO Director in reviewing the initial decision.

(c) All briefs shall:

(1) Be filed with the USPTO Director at the address set forth in §1.1(a)(3)(ii) of this subchapter and served on the opposing party;

(2) Include separate sections containing a concise statement of the disputed facts and disputed points of law; and

(3) Be typed on 812 by 11-inch paper, and comply with Rule 32(a)(4)-(6) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.

(d) An appellant's, cross-appellant's, appellee's, and cross-appellee's brief shall be no more than thirty pages in length, and comply with Rule 28(a)(2), (3), and (5) through (10) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure. Any reply brief shall be no more than fifteen pages in length, and shall comply with Rule 28(a)(2), (3), (8), and (9) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.

(e) The USPTO Director may refuse entry of a nonconforming brief.

(f) The USPTO Director will decide the appeal on the record made before the hearing officer.

(g) Unless the USPTO Director permits, no further briefs or motions shall be filed.

(h) The USPTO Director may order reopening of a disciplinary proceeding in accordance with the principles that govern the granting of new trials. Any request to reopen a disciplinary proceeding on the basis of newly discovered evidence must demonstrate that the newly discovered evidence could not have been discovered by due diligence.

(i) In the absence of an appeal by the OED Director, failure by the respondent to appeal under the provisions of this section shall result in the initial decision being final and effective thirty days from the date of the initial decision of the hearing officer.

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§11.56   Decision of the USPTO Director.

(a) The USPTO Director shall decide an appeal from an initial decision of the hearing officer. On appeal from the initial decision, the USPTO Director has authority to conduct a de novo review of the factual record. The USPTO Director may affirm, reverse, or modify the initial decision or remand the matter to the hearing officer for such further proceedings as the USPTO Director may deem appropriate. In making a final decision, the USPTO Director shall review the record or the portions of the record designated by the parties. The USPTO Director shall transmit a copy of the final decision to the OED Director and to the respondent.

(b) A final decision of the USPTO Director may dismiss a disciplinary proceeding, reverse or modify the initial decision, reprimand a practitioner, or may suspend or exclude the practitioner from practice before the Office. A final decision suspending or excluding a practitioner shall require compliance with the provisions of §11.58. The final decision may also condition the reinstatement of the practitioner upon a showing that the practitioner has taken steps to correct or mitigate the matter forming the basis of the action, or to prevent recurrence of the same or similar conduct.

(c) The respondent or the OED Director may make a single request for reconsideration or modification of the decision by the USPTO Director if filed within twenty days from the date of entry of the decision. No request for reconsideration or modification shall be granted unless the request is based on newly discovered evidence or error of law or fact, and the requestor must demonstrate that any newly discovered evidence could not have been discovered any earlier by due diligence. Such a request shall have the effect of staying the effective date of the order of discipline in the final decision. The decision by the USPTO Director is effective on its date of entry.

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§11.57   Review of final decision of the USPTO Director.

(a) Review of the final decision by the USPTO Director in a disciplinary case may be had, subject to §11.55(d), by a petition filed in accordance with 35 U.S.C. 32. The Respondent must serve the USPTO Director with the petition. Respondent must serve the petition in accordance with Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and §104.2 of this Title.

(b) Except as provided for in §11.56(c), an order for discipline in a final decision will not be stayed except on proof of exceptional circumstances.

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§11.58   Duties of disciplined or resigned practitioner, or practitioner on disability inactive status.

(a) An excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner, or practitioner transferred to disability inactive status shall not engage in any practice of patent, trademark and other non-patent law before the Office. An excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner will not be automatically reinstated at the end of his or her period of exclusion or suspension. An excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner, or practitioner transferred to disability inactive status must comply with the provisions of this section and §11.60 to be reinstated. Failure to comply with the provisions of this section may constitute both grounds for denying reinstatement or readmission; and cause for further action, including seeking further exclusion, suspension, and for revocation of any pending probation.

(b) Unless otherwise ordered by the USPTO Director, any excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner, or practitioner transferred to disability inactive status shall:

(1) Within thirty days after the date of entry of the order of exclusion, suspension, acceptance of resignation, or transfer to disability inactive status:

(i) File a notice of withdrawal as of the effective date of the exclusion, suspension, acceptance of resignation, or transfer to disability inactive status in each pending patent and trademark application, each pending reexamination and interference or trial proceeding, and every other matter pending in the Office, together with a copy of the notices sent pursuant to paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section;

(ii) Provide notice to all State and Federal jurisdictions and administrative agencies to which the practitioner is admitted to practice and all clients the practitioner represents having immediate or prospective business before the Office in patent, trademark and other non-patent matters of the order of exclusion, suspension, acceptance of resignation, or transferred to disability inactive status and of the practitioner's consequent inability to act as a practitioner after the effective date of the order; and that, if not represented by another practitioner, the client should act promptly to substitute another practitioner, or to seek legal advice elsewhere, calling attention to any urgency arising from the circumstances of the case;

(iii) Provide notice to the practitioner(s) for all opposing parties (or, to the parties in the absence of a practitioner representing the parties) in matters pending before the Office of the practitioner's exclusion, suspension, resignation, or transfer to disability inactive status and, that as a consequence, the practitioner is disqualified from acting as a practitioner regarding matters before the Office after the effective date of the suspension, exclusion, resignation or transfer to disability inactive status, and state in the notice the mailing address of each client of the excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner, or practitioner transferred to disability inactive status who is a party in the pending matter;

(iv) Deliver to all clients having immediate or prospective business before the Office in patent, trademark or other non-patent matters any papers or other property to which the clients are entitled, or shall notify the clients and any co-practitioner of a suitable time and place where the papers and other property may be obtained, calling attention to any urgency for obtaining the papers or other property;

(v) Relinquish to the client, or other practitioner designated by the client, all funds for practice before the Office, including any legal fees paid in advance that have not been earned and any advanced costs not expended;

(vi) Take any necessary and appropriate steps to remove from any telephone, legal, or other directory any advertisement, statement, or representation which would reasonably suggest that the practitioner is authorized to practice patent, trademark, or other non-patent law before the Office; and

(vii) Serve all notices required by paragraphs (b)(1)(ii) and (b)(1)(iii) of this section by certified mail, return receipt requested, unless mailed abroad. If mailed abroad, all notices shall be served with a receipt to be signed and returned to the practitioner.

(2) Within forty-five days after entry of the order of suspension, exclusion, or of acceptance of resignation, the practitioner shall file with the OED Director an affidavit of compliance certifying that the practitioner has fully complied with the provisions of the order, this section, and with §11.116 for withdrawal from representation. Appended to the affidavit of compliance shall be:

(i) A copy of each form of notice, the names and addresses of the clients, practitioners, courts, and agencies to which notices were sent, and all return receipts or returned mail received up to the date of the affidavit. Supplemental affidavits shall be filed covering subsequent return receipts and returned mail. Such names and addresses of clients shall remain confidential unless otherwise ordered by the USPTO Director;

(ii) A schedule showing the location, title and account number of every bank account designated as a client or trust account, deposit account in the Office, or other fiduciary account, and of every account in which the practitioner holds or held as of the entry date of the order any client, trust, or fiduciary funds for practice before the Office;

(iii) A schedule describing the practitioner's disposition of all client and fiduciary funds for practice before the Office in the practitioner's possession, custody or control as of the date of the order or thereafter;

(iv) Such proof of the proper distribution of said funds and the closing of such accounts as has been requested by the OED Director, including copies of checks and other instruments;

(v) A list of all other State, Federal, and administrative jurisdictions to which the practitioner is admitted to practice; and

(vi) An affidavit describing the precise nature of the steps taken to remove from any telephone, legal, or other directory any advertisement, statement, or representation which would reasonably suggest that the practitioner is authorized to practice patent, trademark, or other non-patent law before the Office. The affidavit shall also state the residence or other address of the practitioner to which communications may thereafter be directed, and list all State and Federal jurisdictions, and administrative agencies to which the practitioner is admitted to practice. The OED Director may require such additional proof as is deemed necessary. In addition, for the period of discipline, an excluded or suspended practitioner, or a practitioner transferred to disability inactive status shall continue to file a statement in accordance with §11.11, regarding any change of residence or other address to which communications may thereafter be directed, so that the excluded or suspended practitioner, or practitioner transferred to disability inactive status may be located if a grievance is received regarding any conduct occurring before or after the exclusion or suspension. The practitioner shall retain copies of all notices sent and shall maintain complete records of the steps taken to comply with the notice requirements.

(3) Not hold himself or herself out as authorized to practice law before the Office.

(4) Not advertise the practitioner's availability or ability to perform or render legal services for any person having immediate or prospective business before the Office as to that business.

(5) Not render legal advice or services to any person having immediate or prospective business before the Office as to that business.

(6) Promptly take steps to change any sign identifying the practitioner's or the practitioner's firm's office and the practitioner's or the practitioner's firm's stationery to delete therefrom any advertisement, statement, or representation which would reasonably suggest that the practitioner is authorized to practice law before the Office.

(c) An excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner, or practitioner transferred to disability inactive status after entry of the order of exclusion or suspension, acceptance of resignation, or transfer to disability inactive status shall not accept any new retainer regarding immediate or prospective business before the Office, or engage as a practitioner for another in any new case or legal matter regarding practice before the Office. The excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner, or practitioner transferred to disability inactive status shall be granted limited recognition for a period of thirty days. During the thirty-day period of limited recognition, the excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner, or practitioner transferred to disability inactive status shall conclude work on behalf of a client on any matters that were pending before the Office on the date of entry of the order of exclusion or suspension, or acceptance of resignation. If such work cannot be concluded, the excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner, or practitioner transferred to disability inactive status shall so advise the client so that the client may make other arrangements.

(d) Required records. An excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner, or practitioner transferred to disability inactive status shall keep and maintain records of the various steps taken under this section, so that in any subsequent proceeding proof of compliance with this section and with the exclusion or suspension order will be available. The OED Director will require the practitioner to submit such proof as a condition precedent to the granting of any petition for reinstatement.

(e) An excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner, or practitioner on disability inactive status who aids another practitioner in any way in the other practitioner's practice of law before the Office, may, under the direct supervision of the other practitioner, act as a paralegal for the other practitioner or perform other services for the other practitioner which are normally performed by laypersons, provided:

(1) The excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner, or practitioner transferred to disability inactive status is a salaried employee of:

(i) The other practitioner;

(ii) The other practitioner's law firm; or

(iii) A client-employer who employs the other practitioner as a salaried employee;

(2) The other practitioner assumes full professional responsibility to any client and the Office for any work performed by the excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner for the other practitioner;

(3) The excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner, or practitioner transferred to disability inactive status does not:

(i) Communicate directly in writing, orally, or otherwise with a client of the other practitioner in regard to any immediate or prospective business before the Office;

(ii) Render any legal advice or any legal services to a client of the other practitioner in regard to any immediate or prospective business before the Office; or

(iii) Meet in person or in the presence of the other practitioner in regard to any immediate or prospective business before the Office, with:

(A) Any Office employee in connection with the prosecution of any patent, trademark, or other case;

(B) Any client of the other practitioner, the other practitioner's law firm, or the client-employer of the other practitioner; or

(C) Any witness or potential witness whom the other practitioner, the other practitioner's law firm, or the other practitioner's client-employer may or intends to call as a witness in any proceeding before the Office. The term “witness” includes individuals who will testify orally in a proceeding before, or sign an affidavit or any other document to be filed in, the Office.

(f) When an excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner, or practitioner transferred to disability inactive status acts as a paralegal or performs services under paragraph (e) of this section, the practitioner shall not thereafter be reinstated to practice before the Office unless:

(1) The practitioner shall have filed with the OED Director an affidavit which:

(i) Explains in detail the precise nature of all paralegal or other services performed by the excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner, or practitioner transferred to disability inactive status, and

(ii) Shows by clear and convincing evidence that the excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner, or practitioner transferred to disability inactive status has complied with the provisions of this section and all USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct; and

(2) The other practitioner shall have filed with the OED Director a written statement which:

(i) Shows that the other practitioner has read the affidavit required by paragraph (d)(1) of this section and that the other practitioner believes every statement in the affidavit to be true, and

(ii) States why the other practitioner believes that the excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner, or practitioner transferred to disability inactive status has complied with paragraph (c) of this section.

[73 FR 47689, Aug. 14, 2008, as amended at 77 FR 46630, Aug. 6, 2012; 78 FR 20201, Apr. 3, 2013]

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§11.59   Dissemination of disciplinary and other information.

(a) The OED Director shall inform the public of the disposition of each matter in which public discipline has been imposed, and of any other changes in a practitioner's registration status. Public discipline includes exclusion, as well as exclusion on consent; suspension; and public reprimand. Unless otherwise ordered by the USPTO Director, the OED Director shall give notice of public discipline and the reasons for the discipline to disciplinary enforcement agencies in the State where the practitioner is admitted to practice, to courts where the practitioner is known to be admitted, and the public. If public discipline is imposed, the OED Director shall cause a final decision of the USPTO Director to be published. Final decisions of the USPTO Director include default judgments. See §11.54(a)(2). If a private reprimand is imposed, the OED Director shall cause a redacted version of the final decision to be published.

(b) Records available to the public. Unless the USPTO Director orders that the proceeding or a portion of the record be kept confidential, the OED Director's records of every disciplinary proceeding where a practitioner is reprimanded, suspended, or excluded, including when said sanction is imposed by default judgment, shall be made available to the public upon written request, except that information may be withheld as necessary to protect the privacy of third parties or as directed in a protective order issued pursuant to §11.44(c). The record of a proceeding that results in a practitioner's transfer to disability inactive status shall not be available to the public.

(c) Access to records of exclusion by consent. Unless the USPTO Director orders that the proceeding or a portion of the record be kept confidential, an order excluding a practitioner on consent under §11.27 and the affidavit required under paragraph (a) of §11.27 shall be available to the public, except that information in the order or affidavit may be withheld as necessary to protect the privacy of third parties or as directed in a protective order under §11.44(c). The affidavit required under paragraph (a) of §11.27 shall not be used in any other proceeding except by order of the USPTO Director or upon written consent of the practitioner.

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§11.60   Petition for reinstatement.

(a) Restrictions on reinstatement. An excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner shall not resume practice of patent, trademark, or other non-patent law before the Office until reinstated by order of the OED Director or the USPTO Director.

(b) Petition for reinstatement. An excluded or suspended practitioner shall be eligible to apply for reinstatement only upon expiration of the period of suspension or exclusion and the practitioner's full compliance with §11.58. An excluded practitioner shall be eligible to apply for reinstatement no earlier than at least five years from the effective date of the exclusion. A resigned practitioner shall be eligible to petition for reinstatement and must show compliance with §11.58 no earlier than at least five years from the date the practitioner's resignation is accepted and an order is entered excluding the practitioner on consent.

(c) Review of reinstatement petition. An excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner shall file a petition for reinstatement accompanied by the fee required by §1.21(a)(10) of this subchapter. The petition for reinstatement shall be filed with the OED Director. An excluded or suspended practitioner who has violated any provision of §11.58 shall not be eligible for reinstatement until a continuous period of the time in compliance with §11.58 that is equal to the period of suspension or exclusion has elapsed. A resigned practitioner shall not be eligible for reinstatement until compliance with §11.58 is shown. If the excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner is not eligible for reinstatement, or if the OED Director determines that the petition is insufficient or defective on its face, the OED Director may dismiss the petition. Otherwise the OED Director shall consider the petition for reinstatement. The excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner seeking reinstatement shall have the burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence. Such proof shall be included in or accompany the petition, and shall establish:

(1) That the excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner has the good moral character and reputation, competency, and learning in law required under §11.7 for admission;

(2) That the resumption of practice before the Office will not be detrimental to the administration of justice or subversive to the public interest; and

(3) That the suspended practitioner has complied with the provisions of §11.58 for the full period of suspension, that the excluded practitioner has complied with the provisions of §11.58 for at least five continuous years, or that the resigned practitioner has complied with §11.58 upon acceptance of the resignation.

(d) Petitions for reinstatement—Action by the OED Director granting reinstatement. (1) If the excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner is found to have complied with paragraphs (c)(1) through (c)(3) of this section, the OED Director shall enter an order of reinstatement, which shall be conditioned on payment of the costs of the disciplinary proceeding to the extent set forth in paragraphs (d)(2) and (3) of this section.

(2) Payment of costs of disciplinary proceedings. Prior to reinstatement to practice, the excluded or suspended practitioner shall pay the costs of the disciplinary proceeding. The costs imposed pursuant to this section include all of the following:

(i) The actual expense incurred by the OED Director or the Office for the original and copies of any reporter's transcripts of the disciplinary proceeding, and any fee paid for the services of the reporter;

(ii) All expenses paid by the OED Director or the Office which would qualify as taxable costs recoverable in civil proceedings; and

(iii) The charges determined by the OED Director to be “reasonable costs” of investigation, hearing, and review. These amounts shall serve to defray the costs, other than fees for services of attorneys and experts, of the Office of Enrollment and Discipline in the preparation or hearing of the disciplinary proceeding, and costs incurred in the administrative processing of the disciplinary proceeding.

(3) An excluded or suspended practitioner may be granted relief, in whole or in part, only from an order assessing costs under this section or may be granted an extension of time to pay these costs, in the discretion of the OED Director, upon grounds of hardship, special circumstances, or other good cause.

(e) Petitions for reinstatement—Action by the OED Director denying reinstatement. If the excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner is found unfit to resume the practice of patent law before the Office, the OED Director shall first provide the excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner with an opportunity to show cause in writing why the petition should not be denied. Failure to comply with §11.12(c) shall constitute unfitness. If unpersuaded by the showing, the OED Director shall deny the petition. The OED Director may require the excluded, suspended or resigned practitioner, in meeting the requirements of §11.7, to take and pass an examination under §11.7(b), ethics courses, and/or the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination. The OED Director shall provide findings, together with the record. The findings shall include on the first page, immediately beneath the caption of the case, a separate section entitled “Prior Proceedings” which shall state the docket number of the original disciplinary proceeding in which the exclusion or suspension was ordered.

(f) Resubmission of petitions for reinstatement. If a petition for reinstatement is denied, no further petition for reinstatement may be filed until the expiration of at least one year following the denial unless the order of denial provides otherwise.

(g) Reinstatement proceedings open to public. Proceedings on any petition for reinstatement shall be open to the public. Before reinstating any excluded or suspended practitioner, the OED Director shall publish a notice of the excluded or suspended practitioner's petition for reinstatement and shall permit the public a reasonable opportunity to comment or submit evidence with respect to the petition for reinstatement.

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§§11.61-11.99   [Reserved]