ETHICS OPINION 209
NUMBER 209 1922
Question, A and B are both registered patent attorneys admitted to practice before the United States Patent Office. A is a member of the Bar of this state; B is not a lawyer. A and B desire to form a co-partnership and open an office under a firm name to act as “Patent and Trade-Mark Attorneys” but not as counselors at law and the following situation may arise:
1. The firm of A and B file an application for a patent for a client, which becomes involved in interference. From a decision rendered by the Commissioner of Patents, an appeal is taken to the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia by A who alone could prosecute the appeal: (a) Would it be misconduct for A to divide the fees for such an appeal with his partner B; (b) Would it be improper to bill the client for such an appeal in the firm name;
In connection with the business of such partnership A may be called upon to institute suit for infringement of a patent in the Federal Courts: (V) Would it be misconduct for A to divide the fees received in such suit with B, his partner; (b) Would it be improper to bill the client in such case for services rendered in such suit in the firm name?
In connection with the business of such co-partnership it may become necessary for A to incorporate a company in this state to manufacture an invention: (a) Would it be misconduct for A to divide his fees received from such incorporation with B, his partner; (b) Would it be improper to bill the client for such services in the firm name?
Answer. In the opinion of the Committee the office of an attorney admitted to the practice of the law is of such nature, personal in qualifications and responsibilities, that if cannot properly be made the subject of a partnership between one who is admitted to its privileges, and charged with its responsibilities, and subject to its discipline, and one who is not. Each of the matters covered by the respective inquiries involves a professional service, whether m court or not, peculiar to the lawyer’s office, which is not within the professional function of a registered patent attorney who is not an attorney at law; and the authority conferred by registration as a patent attorney does not extend to the performance of any of the services suggested in the inquiry.
For these reasons it appears to a majority of the Committee that a partnership in which one member is not a lawyer cannot properly be formed to conduct these functions or perform these services; and as a consequence a proper answer to each of the questions is that in the opinion of a majority of the Committee the course suggested is not professionally proper.