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   USPTO application-Background question "yes&qu
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Horn
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USPTO application-Background question "yes&qu
« on: May 7th, 2006, 12:28am »
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I was getting ready to take the test again after flunking it the first time by one point.  I've been an attorney for 15 years and have had all kinds of challenges in my life, divorce, medical, severe depression, bankruptcy, ADD diagnosis, combined with a low paying job in local government.  I've tried for years to get out of this nowhere job but my age (45) and lack of experience usually get me nothing after my first interview.  
 
My city has a 2 year prohibition on representing people against it after leaving city employment, which I'm pretty sure is illegal since only the State Bar can regulate attorney representation.  No one will challenge it because it would take more than 2 years to litigate and not be worth it.  So doing what I do now in the private sector isn't a choice.  I can't move to another city because of elderly family members and a son with my ex-wife that need me nearby.
 
As much as I tried, I could not keep up with the massive student loan debt and after exhausting my deferments and doing a refinance, my loans went into default between the last time I applied for the USPTO exam and the application I'm getting ready to submit.
 
Question 22 on the application reads:
 
Are you delinquent on any State or Federal debt? (Include delinquencies arising from Federal or State taxes, loans, overpayment of benefits, and other debts to the U.S. Government and defaults on Federally guaranteed or insured loans such as student and home mortgage loans.)
 
Well, the answer as of last month is "yes."  I don't intend to hide this fact, but I'm pretty sure this is going to sink my application.  Even if I thought I could answer "no" and get away with it, ethically and morally I could never bring myself to do it.  I've contacted the student loan collectors and tried to see if I could work something out to get out of default but the only thing they will accept is a large lump sum payment I simply don't have, or 10 huge monthly payments that would put my family and I out on the street.
 
Its a Catch-22 situation, the only chance I have of ever making a decent living is to pass the USPTO exam, get employment in the IP field and quit my low paying government job.  But I think I won't be able to take the exam unless I'm out of default.
 
First, can anyone tell me for sure if this will disqualify me?  If yes, can anyone suggest something I can do?  I've researched this but I can't find an answer to either question.   I look upon this as my last decent chance to get my career going in a positive direction.  I'm going to call the USPTO on Monday to see what they say but every minute that goes by until then is eating away at me.  Any help would be deeply appreciated.  Thank you.
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James Van Landingham
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Re: USPTO application-Background question "ye
« Reply #1 on: May 9th, 2006, 10:49am »
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You never can say for sure, but it probably won't disqualify you.  I wrote a law review article on this subject a year ago and I have read about almost every possible scenario - yours is not unique.  Trust me, there are people that are applying with charges such as assault and cocaine distribution.  
 
The main thing that you need to do is state your case - just don't try to "shift the blame" or "explain away" the problem as they like to call it.  Another thing you should definitely do is emphasize the positive aspects of your life currently; remember, the standard is PRESENT character.
 
Finally, keep trying to resolve the situation with your creditors.
 
Check Lexis or Westlaw for similar cases - you'll get a feel for what the fitness boards like to hear and learn some tips on how to draft inquiry response letters.  
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Horn
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Re: USPTO application-Background question "ye
« Reply #2 on: May 11th, 2006, 7:56am »
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James, thanks for your reply.  
 
I talked to the USPTO OED people on Monday, they pretty much said the same thing.  I sent my application in on Tuesday and I was upfront and honest about the situation.
 
I'll check Westlaw for the cases.  Can you tell me what Law Review you wrote the article for?  I'd really like to read it.
 
Thanks again.
 
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