Patent lawyers and patent law firms
Client protection is ensured by monitoring the licensing requirement and compliance with the licensing conditions as well as by cooperating with the competent authorities such as the Office of the Public Prosecutor and the professional association. The FMA may also file disciplinary charges with the Court of Appeal. The legal foundations are the Financial Market Authority Act (FMA Act) and the Patent Lawyers Act (PLA).
Monitoring of licensing requirement / Use of professional and business terms
Anyone intending to offer services under the Patent Lawyers Act in the Principality of Liechtenstein requires an FMA licence as a patent lawyer or patent law firm. The FMA monitors compliance with this licensing requirement and authorized use of the term “patent lawyer” or equivalent professional or business term. It follows up on all indications of non-licensed patent lawyer activities or the use of protected terms by non-licensed persons.
If there is a justified suspicion that a person is engaged in commercial patent lawyer activities without authorization or is unlawfully using the term “patent lawyer” or an equivalent professional or business term, the FMA initiates supervisory proceedings to determine the state of affairs. It may demand information and documents from the persons concerned as if they were supervised persons. If the suspicion is substantiated in the course of the preliminary clarifications, the FMA files criminal charges with the Liechtenstein Office of the Public Prosecut.
Monitoring of compliance with licensing conditions
After granting the licence, the FMA monitors permanent compliance with the licensing conditions. If there are grounds for suspicion that the licensing conditions are no longer met, the FMA initiates supervisory proceedings and seizes the necessary measures. If, for instance, it comes to the attention of the FMA that a patent lawyer or patent law firm no longer maintains the legally required liability insurance, then it demands that the licensed person provide evidence of such insurance. If the person fails to comply, the FMA suspends the person’s activities as a patent lawyer until the evidence is provided.
If the FMA believes that a patent lawyer is breaching the obligations of his profession or that his professional or private conduct is interfering with the honour, reputation and credibility of the profession, then it files disciplinary charges with the Court of Appeal.
Cooperation with competent authorities
To combat abuse, the FMA works closely together with the competent bodies (Office of the Public Prosecutor, courts, authorities and professional association). With the exception of national and international obligations to cooperate, the FMA in principle does not provide information about ongoing proceedings.
Institutions for the protection of clients
FMA: The FMA’s competence covers the points referred to above. In particular, it is not responsible for civil disputes between professional trustees and their clients.
Penal authorities: Charges filed with the Court of Appeal as the disciplinary court for criminal proceedings initiated against professional trustees in cases of crimes or misdemeanors (article 21(2) PLA)
Court of Appeal: Exercise of disciplinary powers over patent lawyers (articles 20 ff. PLA)
Court of Justice: Punishment of infractions (article 48 PLA) and misdemeanors (article 47 PLA)