Ethics Opinion 106

By Committee on Professional Ethics

Ethics Opinion 106

Professional Ethics Committee Opinion

Opinion #106 – 06/10/1969 (28-68)

Modifies #81
Topic: Telephone Directory Listing
Digest: Listing of a duly qualified attorney in a classified telephone directory as both a patent and general attorney
Canon: Former Canon 27


May a patent attorney properly list himself in a classified telephone directory under a heading of “Patent attorneys and agents” and also under a heading of “Attorneys” or “Lawyers”?


Persons permitted to practice before the U.S. Patent Office are classified as either patent agents or patent attorneys. Non-lawyers admitted to practice by the Patent Office are patent agents. Lawyers admitted to practice in a state and also by the Patent Office are patent attorneys. The requirements to practice before the Patent Office are the same for both, but separate registers are kept for each.ABA Canon 27 provides in part:”Advertising, Direct or Indirect.”It is not improper for a lawyer who is admitted to practice as a proctor in admiralty to use that designation on his letterhead or shingle or for a lawyer who has complied with the statutory requirements of admission to practice before the patent office, to so use the designation ‘patent attorney’ or ‘patent lawyer’ or ‘trademark attorney’ or ‘trademark lawyer’ or any combination of those terms.”New York State Canon 27 does not have such provision, but numerous opinions of the Committee have been given as if it were included. (N.Y.State 21, 24, 49, 85.)Practice before the Patent Office is a right given by federal law. General legal practice in a state is a right given by state law. Each jurisdiction should avoid interfering with the other, or restricting the rights granted thereby. An attorney licensed by both should not be forbidden to list himself in a telephone directory.In the opinion of this Committee, it is proper for a duly qualified attorney to list himself in a classified telephone directory under both “Patent attorneys and agents” and “Attorneys” or “Lawyers”. N.Y.State Opinion #81- 6/6/68 (16-68) is hereby modified to the extent inconsistent herewith. See Silverman vs. State Bar of Texas, F. 2d (5th Cir Dec. 1968, Case #25582 160 US PQ 171).  To the contrary see ABA 286, ABA Inf. 1048.

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