Colorado Supreme Court
Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel
Promoting Professionalism. Protecting the Public.
Can an unlicensed person own and operate a company that advertises and provides patent law services? The answer is “no”, based on the case of People v. Dak Steiert and Intelligent Patent Services, LLC, a Colorado limited liability company, 17SA214. On February 6, 2019, the Colorado Supreme Court affirmed the Report of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge, acting as a Hearing Master, which recommended that Mr. Steiert and his company be enjoined from further unauthorized practice of law in Colorado and be ordered to pay restitution, a fine and costs.
The Hearing Master found that the company, Intelligent Patent Services, LLC (“IPS”), advertised the services of patent attorneys on the Internet, including under the trade name “Expert Patent Law”. An inventor who read IPS’ advertisement contacted Mr. Steiert (IPS’ principal), who sent the inventor a patent services agreement to sign. To provide its services, IPS hired patent attorneys as independent contractors. Mr. Steiert assigned a contract attorney to each inventor/client. Using information from the inventor sent through IPS, the contract attorney prepared a patent application or drafted related documents to be submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Mr. Steiert for the most part relayed communications and revisions between the inventor/client and the attorney. IPS collected a fee from the inventor/client and paid the attorney a portion of the fee on a piece-work basis.
The Hearing Master held that IPS, a non-lawyer owned entity, was not permitted to purvey the services of licensed attorneys to the public. By offering and providing the services of patent attorneys to inventors, IPS engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.
The Hearing Master also found that Mr. Steiert himself engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, by drafting the claims portion of one inventor’s patent application.
Copies of the Supreme Court’s February 6, 2019 Order and the Hearing Master’s June 27, 2018 Report can be found on the Colorado Supreme Court website: 2017SA214 - Order of Court.