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Archive for Friday, June 29, 2012

Kansas Supreme Court disbars Lawrence attorney

June 29, 2012

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The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday disbarred Lawrence attorney Stephen R. Robinson after he self-reported in 2010 that he co-mingled a client’s funds for a patent application with his personal account.

According to an order released Friday, Robinson was already suspended in October 2009 for failing to fulfill continuing legal education requirements and failing to pay fees. In April 2010, Robinson self-reported spending about $2,400 for personal use after a client paid him to file a patent prosecution document before the United States Patent and Trademark Office and to cover his fee from the work.

Robinson had said he would be working with the client on filing the document, but he failed to provide the state’s disciplinary administrator with proof he completed the patenting document for which he was paid $2,400, according to the Supreme Court decision.

Robinson did not attend his hearing before the Supreme Court, and he also told state officials throughout the disciplinary process he intended to surrender his license to practice, although he did not complete the paperwork.

Comments

AllisLoveandLoveisAll 8 months ago

I am Steve Robinson's daughter. It's interesting that some people think they have authority to judge, and even condemn, my father. Let me say this, before the more bitter of you write me off as biased: Yes, he is my father and no, I don't think he's perfect. We have had many differences throughout my life. But he has taught me a very valuable lesson: give people a break. You know what? Yeah, my dad is a slob. And you know what? I love him very much. Anyone want to talk about 'down on his luck?' Let's talk losing your first-born child. My father experienced that. So, for the love of all that is good...be kind to each other...be forgiving with each other.

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SnakeFist 1 year, 9 months ago

Streamfortyseven, I agree with most of what you said, but the costs you quoted are low for Kansas City (which is where most private patent attorneys in Kansas are located).

A third party search service will charge close to $2000 just to provide prior art results, and an attorney could easily burn through another $2000 reviewing those results and drafting an opinion letter. For that reason, most clients opt to forgo a patentability opinion.

There is no such thing as a "provisional patent", only a provisional patent application which automatically expires after 12 months and cannot issue into a patent.

$600 to prepare and file a provisional patent application is extremely low - figure on pending $2000-$4000 or so in KC where they'll draft it as a non-provisional application without formal claims. You can skimp on the provisional, but you run the risk of forgetting a detail that then won't receive the priority date of the provisional. Also, most clients need a complete, detailed document to present to potential investors.

And $200 per hour is a low rate for a patent attorney - figure on $250 (for an associate) to $375 (for a senior partner) in KC. Heck, we billed our patent paralegals at $100 per hour. Also, that final number of $15,000 is just for U.S. protection. Pursuing foreign patent protection can easily double or triple that.

Unfortunately, I've seen lots of clients who think their inventions are worth millions but balk at paying a few thousand to protect it properly.

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Hudson Luce 1 year, 9 months ago

It's a shame this happened, but it's a frequent cause of disbarment in Kansas. $2400 is a lot of money to most people, but in doing patents, it's what you would pay just to start the process.

To get a patent, you really need to do a worldwide patent search of granted, withdrawn, abandoned, and rejected applications, in addition to searches of international literature. Just searching granted patents isn't enough, your application can be rejected on the basis of a combination of rejected, withdrawn, and granted patents. If you can find patent(s) or publication(s) which would make your client's invention "obvious to one skilled in the art", then your application can and will be rejected, so you need to find this out before you spend money on filing fees. The cost for a patent search can run between $1000 to $2000 and up, depending on the invention.

I advise my clients to get a provisional patent first, figure on spending about $600, and all you need are drawings which adequately describe the invention (although these may be costly in and of themselves) and a description of the invention. This is good for one year, so you can do the patent search first to determine whether or not you can actually reasonably expect to get a patent, then attempt to market your invention to see if it has any commercial value. It's been estimated that 95% of patents granted don't make any money for their inventors, by the way, so a marketing study is necessary before you get into paying an attorney $200 per hour to draft claims for a non-provisional application, and then pay the application fees (a total of $625) and the attorney fees for the prosecution of the application.

If you actually get a patent - and it may take between 3 to 6 years to get one - the issue fee is $870. Maintenance fees at 3 years and 6 months are $565, at 7 years 6 months are $1425, and at 11years 6 months are $2365. If you want the Patent Office to speed up the process, that will cost you $2400 over and above the $625 fee.

It's not unusual to wind up spending $15,000 to go through the whole process - and there's no guarantee you'll get a patent, or a patent that has any marketable value, if claims are disallowed by the USPTO. On top of which, if your patent is infringed upon, you have to hire an attorney and sue to protect it. You may get an award of fees, but you may not, so that's a risk too.

One of the things that people should know about, up front, before they even get started, is how much the process is going to cost, what the chances are of getting a favorable result (often pretty slim, depending on the field of invention), and if the invention is marketable. Oftentimes there are more cost-effective ways of protecting one's interest in one's works than securing a patent. Of course, if you find a major corp that wants to license the invention, you're set, potentially, but there are pitfalls here as well.

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avarom 1 year, 9 months ago

One day, there was this lawyer who had just bought a new car, and he was eager to show it off to his colleagues, when all of a sudden an eighteen wheeler came out of nowhere and took of the driver's side door with him standing right there. "NOOO!" he screamed, because he knew that no matter how good a mechanic tried to fix it, it never would be the same. Finally, a cop came by, and the lawyer ran up to him yelling. "MY JAGUAR DOOR WAS JUST RUINED BY SOME FOOLISH DRIVER!!!" he exclaimed. "Your a lawyer aren't you?" asked the policeman. "Yes, I am, but what does this have to do with my car?!?!" the lawyer asked. "HA! Your lawyers are always so materialistic. All you care about is your possessions. I bet you didn't even notice that your left arm is missing did you?" the cop said. The lawyer looked down at his side and exclaimed "MY ROLEX!"

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hotmess 1 year, 9 months ago

Maybe Brownback will hire him.

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Gaul 1 year, 9 months ago

It just seems that there is little leeway between getting your license suspended and being disbarred. Furthermore, there seems to be no structure devised to rehabilitate professional people. I know of a fine osteopath in Kansas City who lost his license because he also believed in the validity of some alternative medicine. His practice became very popular and the other physicians in the city seemed jealous. He lost one patient due to a heart attack, a complaint was filed, and he lost his license to practice against the protests of hundreds of his satisfied patients. Others lost patients and never lost their license.

But, you're right. Some circumstances call for the maximum penalty and there is no wiggle room at all. Only an insider could really know, I suppose.

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trois 1 year, 9 months ago

This is amasing I filed a complaint on one lawyer for showing up to court with nothing but an empty legal sheet and drunk and they told me they could see nothing wrong with his practices.

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Gaul 1 year, 9 months ago

You know, there is probably a percentage of attorneys with no ethics and little or no morals. And they are not disbarred. As far as going around "high", that is certainly not an oddity either. Have you ever heard the joke about the Muslim terrorists who captured 50 lawyers and put them in a cave? They threatened to release ten every hour until their demands were met. This particular attorney is down on his luck, and every one is piling on. Pitiful.

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Catalano 1 year, 9 months ago

ROFLMAO. Not surprised in the least that Steve got disbarred. He has no ethics, and certainly no morals. Not to mention he's high practically every minute of every day, so no wonder co-mingled money and never filed paperwork.

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callitlikeitis 1 year, 9 months ago

You must be his mother. I know him professionally, and he's a hack. He's had his license suspended twice prior to being disbarred. I have observed his professional conduct on a number of occasions, and his performance has never been anything less than appalling. Good riddance.

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Jayhawk1958 1 year, 9 months ago

I believe you, but this is Kansas.

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Clark Coan 1 year, 9 months ago

I knew the dude years ago before he was an attorney. He's a stand-up guy. He apparently made two fortunes on practicing patent law in DC.

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