NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATIONProfessional
Ethics Committee Opinion
Opinion #24 - 02/09/1966
Topic: Patent Specialization, Title in Signature
Digest: No impropriety in corporate patent attorney indicating his
speciality as a title after his signature
Canon: Former Canon 27
The Associate Director of the Patent Department of a large
international manufacturing corporation requests the opinion of the
Committee on Professional Ethics as to (a) the use of the following
Titles after the signatures of members of the Department in
and (b) whether opinions should be obtained from any other bar
association or associations.
The practice contemplated by this corporation falls within the
purview of Canon 27 relative to Advertising, Direct or Indirect.
In 1951, the American Bar Association amended Canon 27 as applied to
proctors in admiralty and patent attorneys to read as follows:
"It is not improper for a lawyer who is admitted to practice as a
proctor in admiralty to use that designation on his letterhead or
shingle or for a lawyer who has complied with the statutory requirements
of admission to practice before the patent office to so use the
designation 'patent attorney' or 'patent lawyer' or 'trademark attorney'
or 'trademark lawyer' or any combination of those terms."
The New York version of Canon 27 does not contain these exceptions
for admiralty and patent lawyers. However, in our opinion, the proposed
practice is not violative of this Canon. This is especially true
in the case of use of titles by lawyers who work exclusively for the
corporate legal department of a corporation where such use does not
constitute direct or indirect advertising. In Opinion No. 285
(dated September 4, 1951) the Committee on Professional Ethics and
Grievances of the American Bar Association stated "…Of course, in
case of counsel employed only by the corporation or association, no
question of advertising would be presented ....”
We leave the suggestion of requesting an opinion from other bar
associations to the discretion of the inquirer.
See Opinion No. 21 - 12/20/65 (10-65) of this Committee.