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(Message started by: florida on May 18th, 2006, 2:11pm)

Title: character and fitness question
Post by florida on May 18th, 2006, 2:11pm
Has anyone had any experience with character and fitness inquiries??  How long does it take?  What kind of things are automatic denials?

I am aware that there is a similar thread on the top page, but it is side tracked on a peripheral issue.  I passed the patent bar in the Spring.  I thought when I got the letter saying I could take the exam, that this included my background check.  I was extremely happy to pass because the test was very hard, and I was very soon thereafter let down when my letter said "You recieved a passing score, however due to your answers to questions..."  It took about a month for them to send me a follow up letter detailing the info that they wanted.  This was a standardized letter, and it took them a month to send it to me, so I am worried about how long a character inquiry is going to take.  Does anyone have any helpful information?

Title: Re: character and fitness question
Post by John Simmons on May 19th, 2006, 10:19am
Check out the article I referenced in the other C & F thread.  As far as a time frame; well, at least in my sister's case it took her about 2 years to resolve the D.U.I. issue.  She went through a substantial amount of back and forth with the Board and also had to attend what she described as an extremely adversarial hearing.  

But a word of caution, this was a state bar.  Most people do not get singled out, but unfortunately, some do.  Out of curiousity, I read all of the published C & F decisions up to January 2005.   I've seen states admit multi-pound cocaine traffickers and then a few sessions later deny people for excessive absenteeism at work.  I've come to the conclusion that it really just depends on luck and who happens to be on the review board at that time.
I haven't come across any appeals concerning USPTO C & F decisions (the only way to really glimpse these otherwise closed proceedings).    

Title: Re: character and fitness question
Post by florida on May 19th, 2006, 10:30am

on 05/19/06 at 10:19:10, John Simmons wrote:
I've come to the conclusion that it really just depends on luck and who happens to be on the review board at that time.


Isn't it amazing how that can ruine someone's career, even their life?

I mean, we are talking about people who invested tens of thousands of dollars and three years of their life in an education, and then someone else gets to decide their future based on how they feel that day, with no accountability... its just amazing to me.

It is one thing if you are endangering someone's life, such as a DUI.  Even there, if it is only a one time thing I think the person should be licensed immediately and put on several years of probation.  With a violent felony, I can see that being a permanent disqualification.  Other than that, I really don't see the reason behind it, especially if we are talking about isolated incidents.  It just seems like they are arbitrarily trying to narrow out the competition.

Title: Re: character and fitness question
Post by Isaac on May 19th, 2006, 11:35am

on 05/19/06 at 10:30:39, florida wrote:
I can see that being a permanent disqualification. Other than that, I really don't see the reason behind it, especially if we are talking about isolated incidents. It just seems like they are arbitrarily trying to narrow out the competition.


With respect to violent felonies including murder, I've been told that state bars take a different view.   For someone who has done their time after a single incident and has demonstrated compliance with the law thereafter, a license is frequently granted.  However a single incident involving dishonesty or theft is far less likely to be forgiven.

Title: Re: character and fitness question
Post by florida on May 19th, 2006, 12:34pm

on 05/19/06 at 11:35:51, Isaac wrote:
With respect to violent felonies including murder, I've been told that state bars take a different view. For someone who has done their time after a single incident and has demonstrated compliance with the law thereafter, a license is frequently granted. However a single incident involving dishonesty or theft is far less likely to be forgiven.


That doesn't make any sense in my book.  So much for putting human life above personal property.

I can understand denying someone for a pattern of behavior, but as long as it is only one or two isolated incidents I don't see how you can make any character judgement unless it was a violent or malicious act toward another.  

Title: Re: character and fitness question
Post by Isaac on May 19th, 2006, 1:03pm
Not all murder is premeditated and thus might not involve a calculated assessment of the worth of a human life.  In fact you must have had a fairly specific situation in mind to bring up property.


Title: Re: character and fitness question
Post by florida on May 19th, 2006, 1:39pm
I didn't bring up property.  You brought up theft, which is the taking of personal property.

Title: Re: character and fitness question
Post by Isaac on May 19th, 2006, 2:35pm
I mistook your comment.

But in light of my new understanding, I think an explanation would be that the bar does not consider not giving a thief or a murderer a license to be additional punishment, but an administrative decision based on how the person is likely to behave after being licensed.  It may be easier to believe that a person who commits a murder in the heat of passion won't do so again than to believe that a cold calculating thief won't steal again.

Given that rationale, the bar would not be weighing the severity of crimes in making their decision.

Title: Re: character and fitness question
Post by John Simmons on May 19th, 2006, 8:52pm
All I know is that my sister got a D.U.I. eight years ago; seriously, she was only 21 at the time.  She applied at a much different stage in her life.  At the hearings, the board asked her very detailed questions about the arrest.  Of course, after  8 years, it was fuzzy - unfortunately, they took the lack of memory as a lack of "candor."  It really upset me.  My sister is one of the most ambitious and honest people that I know.  She actually had forgotten the exact wording of the arresting officer.  It really was a one time incident and she had changed since college.  She got arrested coming back from a Florida State football game; they were only two blocks from their hotel.  I don't approve the behavior, but she really was different from her 21st birthday.  

O.K., I apologize for the rant.  

Title: Re: character and fitness question
Post by florida on May 22nd, 2006, 6:57pm
I refuse to believe that not a single person here has a misdemeanor charge and dealt with the OED about it.  If you don't feel like admitting it in the forum, could someone at least PM me and let me know how long their character inquiry took?  thanks.

Title: Re: character and fitness question
Post by SciGuy on May 25th, 2006, 2:34pm
Florida,
Yes, I did have to deal with a character and fitness inquiry.  When I applied for the exam I said yes to the "...have you ever been charged.." and attached an explanation but no documentation.  Just after passing the test I realized that I faild to disclose a traffic ticket.  I immediately sent them a letter with the corresponding addendum.  After that it went like this:
1) a week later a got a letter asking for documentation for only one of the tickets
2) I acquired the documentation and sent it in
3) a week and a half later I was asked to submitt my Oath and Data Sheet

Altogether, it took less than a month from passing the test.  IMO, the bottom line is that if you are honest, forthcoming, and you truly aren't a bad apple, then everything should be alright.

Title: Re: character and fitness question
Post by florida on May 26th, 2006, 8:44am

on 05/19/06 at 20:52:23, John Simmons wrote:
All I know is that my sister got a D.U.I. eight years ago; seriously, she was only 21 at the time.  She applied at a much different stage in her life.  At the hearings, the board asked her very detailed questions about the arrest.  Of course, after  8 years, it was fuzzy - unfortunately, they took the lack of memory as a lack of "candor."  It really upset me.  My sister is one of the most ambitious and honest people that I know.  She actually had forgotten the exact wording of the arresting officer.  It really was a one time incident and she had changed since college.  She got arrested coming back from a Florida State football game; they were only two blocks from their hotel.  I don't approve the behavior, but she really was different from her 21st birthday.  

O.K., I apologize for the rant.  



What state was this in?  Florida?

Title: Re: character and fitness question
Post by florida on May 26th, 2006, 8:45am

on 05/25/06 at 14:34:49, SciGuy wrote:
Florida,
Yes, I did have to deal with a character and fitness inquiry.  When I applied for the exam I said yes to the "...have you ever been charged.." and attached an explanation but no documentation.  Just after passing the test I realized that I faild to disclose a traffic ticket.  I immediately sent them a letter with the corresponding addendum.  After that it went like this:
1) a week later a got a letter asking for documentation for only one of the tickets
2) I acquired the documentation and sent it in
3) a week and a half later I was asked to submitt my Oath and Data Sheet

Altogether, it took less than a month from passing the test.  IMO, the bottom line is that if you are honest, forthcoming, and you truly aren't a bad apple, then everything should be alright.



Your experience sounds altogether different than mine.

Title: Re: character and fitness question
Post by SciGuy on May 26th, 2006, 11:38am
How much time has passed now since you got the letter asking for information/documentation/explanation?

Title: Re: character and fitness question
Post by dummy on May 28th, 2006, 10:35pm
Hey John Simmons, where do you find the published decisions of the C&F committee?  I too am curious and wouldn't mind reading some of them.  Thanks!

Title: Re: character and fitness question
Post by material on May 30th, 2006, 1:49pm
I got a couple of speeding tickets about 10 years ago.  They are no longer on by driving record, so I can not get details about them.  I think they may have been over $100 fines since all tickets in my state are.  I don't remember any details about them (like how much over the speed limit they were).  Should I disclose to them that I had a couple tickets, but I don't remember details?  I would not be able to send in official documents since I can not get them.  How strict are they about dislcosure?

Title: Re: character and fitness question
Post by SciGuy on May 30th, 2006, 3:58pm
Tell 'em and you're safe.  It ain't worth the risk to hide anything.

Title: Re: character and fitness question
Post by Agent_X on Jun 1st, 2006, 12:59am
I just sent in my application to the OED.  

I checked yes for #16 b/c of a traffic ticket back in 1998 doing 80mph in a 65mph on the freeway.  I didn't have a copy of the ticket but gave the details in a statement and a copy of my current DMV record.

I doubt they ask for more but it is always safer to disclose.


Title: Re: character and fitness question
Post by C&F on Jun 30th, 2006, 12:36am
I was wondering - if you are admitted to practice before the patent office as an agent, then go to Law school and get refused to the state bar on Character & Fitness grounds, would that impact your standing with the PTO?  How about vice-versa?

I'm just wondering if I have a "safety net" just in case I do something stupid in Law School.

Title: Re: character and fitness question
Post by buckethead on Jul 13th, 2006, 10:02pm
query: one of the CF questions inquires whether one has been "held" by authorities. can anyone decode this term for me? are they asking if I have ever been detained by the police for any reason?

Title: Re: character and fitness question
Post by icygreg on Jul 14th, 2006, 3:23pm
If you are admitted to practice before the USPTO, and disclose to them fully all of your arrests, tickets, etc., you will not have problems with your subsequent state bar application.  However, state bars will inquire about applications for other licenses and will typically request, with your consent, a copy of that application from the respective authority.  They then compare the application content to see whether there are any discrepancies and if there are, they will cite you for lack of candor - an often fatal blow to licensure.  Absolute candor is absolutely necessary.  Remember it is "seeming to be of good character on paper," rather than actually being of good character that matters.  



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