Tuesday, October 4, 2022

TIPped Off

The Indiana Supreme Court has imposed a 90-day suspension without automatic reinstatement

In 2019, pursuant to a conditional agreement for discipline, we suspended Respondent from the practice of law in Indiana for 30 days with automatic reinstatement for misconduct involving Respondent’s Indiana-based law firm and its patent work with inventors. Matter of Gray, 126 N.E.3d 805 (Ind. 2019). At the time, Respondent was also consensually excluded from practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) without an admission of misconduct. Respondent wound down his Indiana law firm and relocated to Florida, where he created another company, The Inventor’s Platform (TIP), under the alias Nickolas Farbacks.

TIP’s operations closely paralleled Respondent’s previous Indiana business arrangements and shared many of the same infirmities. Acting under his alias, Respondent contracted with and directed paralegals, attorneys, and others to provide services—including legal services—to TIP clients. TIP’s contracts with its customers generally forbade them from contacting the contract attorneys, and TIP paid those attorneys only a fraction of the attorney fees collected from the customers. Clients’ provisional patent applications were often drafted by nonlawyer TIP personnel without appropriate attorney supervision.

Additionally, while Respondent was excluded from practicing before the USPTO, he supervised contract attorneys’ patent work, answered any questions they had about the patent work, and discouraged them from communicating with the clients. Finally, during the course of the Commission’s investigation into Respondent’s Florida conduct, Respondent made several misrepresentations, inaccurately depicting himself as a passive instead of an active participant in TIP.

Sanction

Respondent urges us to impose a 30- to 60-day suspension with automatic reinstatement for any misconduct found. But given Respondent’s prior discipline for similar misconduct and the dishonesty involved in this case, we agree with the Commission that a suspension without automatic reinstatement is warranted.

(Mike Frisch)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2022/10/the-indiana-supreme-court-has-imposed-a-90-day-suspension-without-automatic-reinstatement.html

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