An en banc rehearing is now pending before the Federal Circuit in the case of Therasense (Abbott) v. BD. The case focuses on questions of patent unenforceability due to the patentee’s inequitable conduct during prosecution. The court opinions focus on the actions of Mr. Lawrence S. Pope who was the attorney responsible for prosecution of the asserted patent. The district court held that pope “acted with specific intent to deceive” the patent examiner and the USPTO. Based on that finding, Pope has been investigated by both the PTO Office of Enrollment & Discipline (OED) and the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC).
There is no doubt that the finding of intentional deception has substantially and negatively impacted Mr. Pope. As a pro-active attorney, Mr. Pope (who is no longer with Abbott) attempted to intervene in the case to defend his own record. After receiving briefs on the motion to intervene, the Federal Circuit denied the request.
Writing as the motions judge, Judge Gajarsa wrote:
Pope asserts that he meets the standards for intervention, i.e., that he has a substantial interest in the appeal, that his interests will not be adequately represented by Abbott, and that intervention will not cause any undue delay or harm. . . . In Nisus Corporation v. PermaChink Systems, Inc., 497 F.3d 1316, 1319-20, 1322-23 (Fed. Cir. 2007), we affirmed a district court's denial of a motion to intervene by an attorney who had prosecuted a patent and who sought to challenge factual findings concerning his conduct that were related to a finding of unenforceability. We expressly distinguished Penthouse Int'l because it involved an attorney who sought to intervene after a district court sanctioned the attorney and directed the attorney to pay a sanction. In this case, Pope has shown no similar type of sanction. Nisus, 497 F.3d at 1319 ("Critical comments, such as in an opinion of the court addressed to the issues in the underlying case, are not directed at and do not alter the legal rights of the nonparty.").