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In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against Stewart

Supreme Court of Wisconsin

December 21, 2017

In the Matter of Disciplinary Proceedings Against Alan R. Stewart, Attorney at Law:
v.
Alan R. Stewart, Respondent. Office of Lawyer Regulation, Complainant,

         ATTORNEY disciplinary proceeding. Attorney's license suspended.

          PER CURIAM.

         ¶1We review Referee John B. Murphy's recommendation that Attorney Alan R. Stewart be declared in default and that his license to practice law in Wisconsin be suspended for 60 days for professional misconduct. The referee also recommended that Attorney Stewart pay the full costs of the proceeding, which are $805.85 as of October 11, 2017.

         ¶2 We declare Attorney Stewart to be in default. We agree with the referee that Attorney Stewart's professional misconduct warrants a 60-day suspension of his license to practice law in Wisconsin. We also agree that Attorney Stewart should pay the full costs of this proceeding.

         ¶3 Attorney Stewart was admitted to practice law in Wisconsin in 1992. He was registered as a patent attorney with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on March 19, 2001.[1] He practices in Appleton.

         ¶4 This court recently imposed a nine-month disciplinary suspension on Attorney Stewart for two counts of failing to complete and file a patent application or act in furtherance of his client's interests in violation of SCR 20:1.3; two counts of failing to keep his client reasonably informed of the status of the matter and respond to his client's telephone calls and emails in violation of SCR 20:1.4 (a) (3) and (4); two counts of receiving an advance fee from his client and failing to complete and file the patent application in violation of SCR 20:1.5(a); two counts of failing to refund any unearned advance fee in violation of SCR 20:1.16(d); one count of misrepresenting to his client that he completed the patent application in violation of SCR 20:8.4(c); and two counts of failing to provide the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) with a written response to the grievance in violation of SCR 22.03(2) and (6), enforced via SCR 20:8.4(h). See In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against Stewart, 2017 WI 41, 374 Wis.2d 642, 893 N.W.2d 572.

         ¶5 In addition, Attorney Stewart's license to practice law in Wisconsin is also administratively suspended due to his failure to pay mandatory bar dues, failure to file a trust account certification, and failure to comply with continuing legal education requirements.

         ¶6 On June 16, 2017, the OLR filed this complaint against Attorney Stewart alleging three counts of misconduct pertaining to his continuing to practice law before the USPTO. Specifically, as the complaint alleged, USPTO regulations require that trademark matters be handled by a registered attorney, defined as "an individual who is a member in good standing in the highest court of any state." Attorney Stewart has been administratively suspended from the practice of law in Kentucky and Minnesota since at least 2013, for non-payment of bar dues.

         ¶7 On February 10, 2015, this court temporarily suspended Attorney Stewart's license to practice law due to his failure to cooperate in two separate OLR investigations. The OLR sent Attorney Stewart notice of that temporary license suspension. Attorney Stewart filed documents or otherwise took action in five different trademark matters on March 16, 2015, April 27, 2015, May 18, 2015, and June 6, 2015. On October 2, 2015, the Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED) filed a complaint with the USPTO against Attorney Stewart relating to his continuing practice before the USPTO despite not being a member in good standing in any state bar.

         ¶8 Attorney Stewart did not respond the OED complaint and was eventually deemed to be in default; the USPTO issued an Initial Decision and Order on Default Judgment on December 16, 2015, finding, inter alia, that Attorney Stewart "violated 37 C.F.R. §11.505 by continuing to practice trademark law before the USPTO despite not being a member in good standing in any state bar." The USPTO excluded him from practice before the USPTO.

         ¶9 On February 10, 2016, the OED advised the OLR of this matter. On February 25, 2016, the OLR provided Attorney Stewart with written notice of its formal investigation, requesting a response from Attorney Stewart. Despite repeated requests, Attorney Stewart has failed to respond to the OLR's inquiry.

         ¶10 Accordingly, the OLR's complaint alleged:

Count One: By continuing to practice trademark law before the USPTO despite not being a member in good standing in any state bar, Attorney Stewart violated SCR 20:5.5(a) (1) .[2]
Count Two: By representing himself to the USPTO as an attorney of record in Wisconsin in four separate trademark applications, despite knowing that he was suspended from the practice of law, Attorney ...

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