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965f7439
Community Member

Getting outbid by freelances practicing law with no license.

Hey guys, looking for some advice. I am a registered patent agent and I am new to upwork. I have been bidding on some proposals and I have gotten a few interviews. I am offering services at a very good rate for a professional patent agent. I am constantly getting outbid by people on here offering to do legal work that do not lave a license. Several of my potential clients have told me there are people bidding against me that do not have a license to practice law and bidding ten times lower than my price! I have even seen profiles on here of people offering patent preparation and prosection with out a license to practice! I have even checked the USPTO database to see if they are registereted and they are not. This is illegal on a federal lever as it is the unauthorized practice of law (37 C.F.R. 11.505). They are practicing illegally and are making it hard to complete. Any suggestions as to what I should do? 

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a_lipsey
Community Member


Matt G wrote:

Hey guys, looking for some advice. I am a registered patent agent and I am new to upwork. I have been bidding on some proposals and I have gotten a few interviews. I am offering services at a very good rate for a professional patent agent. I am constantly getting outbid by people on here offering to do legal work that do not lave a license. Several of my potential clients have told me there are people bidding against me that do not have a license to practice law and bidding ten times lower than my price! I have even seen profiles on here of people offering patent preparation and prosection with out a license to practice! I have even checked the USPTO database to see if they are registereted and they are not. This is illegal on a federal lever as it is the unauthorized practice of law (37 C.F.R. 11.505). They are practicing illegally and are making it hard to complete. Any suggestions as to what I should do? 


Matt, there is not much you can do about the people practicing illegally on here. I have similar issues in my field with unethical and sometimes illegal practices by other grant professionals (or those calling themselves such) on Upwork. Your best way of dealing with this is to make a point of it both in your profile and proposal that you are a licensed and registered patent agent and anyone they hire to do the work should be as well. Don't put down other freelancers, just point out that you are licensed and registered and give them the link to where they can check your credentials. 

 

Some clients are still going to hire people without credentials at bottom feeder rates. Those aren't your target clientele anyhow. If these other freelancers are doing something illegal, you could report them to the appropriate authority or report their profiles to Upwork. In my field, years ago I initially thought to do the same, but then realized I could never stop the proliferation of scammers or fraudulent freelancers claiming to have credentials they don't. I flag it when I see it outright, and otherwise just try to educate clients and people new to my field on industry standards. 

 

ETA: you might be getting outbid because your profile is pretty sparse. It mostly talks about you and your team, not what the client needs or the solutions you provide to the client. Landing Upwork clients and marketing through Upwork is not the same as through other platforms/vehicles. Your profile needs to be more about the client's needs and how you serve them than about your background or your team mindset. My guess would be your proposals make the same kind of mistake. So, if I were you, I'd take a look at improving those things and see if you don't become a more attractive hire. 

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martina_plaschka
Community Member


Matt G wrote:

Hey guys, looking for some advice. I am a registered patent agent and I am new to upwork. I have been bidding on some proposals and I have gotten a few interviews. I am offering services at a very good rate for a professional patent agent. I am constantly getting outbid by people on here offering to do legal work that do not lave a license. Several of my potential clients have told me there are people bidding against me that do not have a license to practice law and bidding ten times lower than my price! I have even seen profiles on here of people offering patent preparation and prosection with out a license to practice! I have even checked the USPTO database to see if they are registereted and they are not. This is illegal on a federal lever as it is the unauthorized practice of law (37 C.F.R. 11.505). They are practicing illegally and are making it hard to complete. Any suggestions as to what I should do? 


Since you are unable to see their full name and adress, it's probably difficult to report them. They might also be providing a service to their clients that don't require a license, meaning you would not be able to prove they did something illegal. 

Maybe the license is not important to the client, you will not be able to compete for those jobs. 

But aside from all that - you can't represent a group on a single freelancer profile, so you might want to remove all those references. Now I could be snarky and tell you to read the terms of service, but........... you probably did that already. Or should now. 

I know that there are profiles that offer patent preparation and prosecution services for clients where the person offering has no license.  You cannot represent someone if you are not a registered patent practitioner. They are advertising services that would result in unauthorized practice of law. I have accepted that upwork cant do anything about this. It is just frustrating that I am getting outbid by people that arent licensed when I worked hard to get mine. Upwork really needs to screen these people. 

 

I have updated my bio to include language that reflects that I am a solo freelancer


Matt G wrote:

I know that there are profiles that offer patent preparation and prosecution services for clients where the person offering has no license.  You cannot represent someone if you are not a registered patent practitioner. They are advertising services that would result in unauthorized practice of law. I have accepted that upwork cant do anything about this. It is just frustrating that I am getting outbid by people that arent licensed when I worked hard to get mine. Upwork really needs to screen these people. 

 

I have updated my bio to include language that reflects that I am a solo freelancer


Start your proposals with something like "as one of the few registered patent agents..." and add a paragraph explaining the difference between a registered patent agent and someone how claims to be qualified.

Remove everything that mentions "team" from your profile. People get the impression they are paying for a team while they are watching for a single person.

 

There is nothing you can do about these scammers, they are all over the place. Just try and educate your clients but keep inmind that you are competing against freelancers from all over the world.


Matt G wrote:

I know that there are profiles that offer patent preparation and prosecution services for clients where the person offering has no license.  You cannot represent someone if you are not a registered patent practitioner. They are advertising services that would result in unauthorized practice of law. I have accepted that upwork cant do anything about this. It is just frustrating that I am getting outbid by people that arent licensed when I worked hard to get mine. Upwork really needs to screen these people. 

 

I have updated my bio to include language that reflects that I am a solo freelancer


What do you mean? You are still talking about a team of people. That needs to go, or alternatively you can create an agency with all these team member having their own upwork profiles. 


Matt G wrote:

I know that there are profiles that offer patent preparation and prosecution services for clients where the person offering has no license.  You cannot represent someone if you are not a registered patent practitioner. They are advertising services that would result in unauthorized practice of law. I have accepted that upwork cant do anything about this. It is just frustrating that I am getting outbid by people that arent licensed when I worked hard to get mine. Upwork really needs to screen these people. 

 

I have updated my bio to include language that reflects that I am a solo freelancer


Nop.
I don't know if you've made any changes, but you keep talking about a team and you have to talk about yourself.
The presentation is very cold for me, and that paragraph without separations makes it uncomfortable to read.

prestonhunter
Community Member

re: "Any suggestions as to what I should do?"

 

Upwork is not a legal services website.

 

You will benefit if you think of Upwork as a website clients to use to hire web developers and blog writers. And Upwork allows other types of jobs as well.

 

Upwork is not going to transform itself to provide a full suite of legal profession-specific services that (if we're being honest) nobody at Upwork really knows about or wants to deal with.

 

What should you do about names you don't like seeing on Upwork? Take it up with organizations outside of Upwork. If those freelancers are not violating Upwork ToS, then it isn't appropriate for you to report them on Upwork.

 

It is not going to be productive if you start going to Upwork Customer Support with things like this: "John C.., who might be John Uriah Clancy, but I'm not sure, is registered with a Class-C Subsection 103.2b patent qualifications under USCD Code 0081 Subsection 1-3.a, but he is offering adjacent certification services, and obviously that's not allowed subsequent to Turner V. Amsted (1943)."


But if the outside organizations you are associated with want to do something, then go for it with them.

tlbp
Community Member

Report them to the appropriate authority. 

a_lipsey
Community Member


Matt G wrote:

Hey guys, looking for some advice. I am a registered patent agent and I am new to upwork. I have been bidding on some proposals and I have gotten a few interviews. I am offering services at a very good rate for a professional patent agent. I am constantly getting outbid by people on here offering to do legal work that do not lave a license. Several of my potential clients have told me there are people bidding against me that do not have a license to practice law and bidding ten times lower than my price! I have even seen profiles on here of people offering patent preparation and prosection with out a license to practice! I have even checked the USPTO database to see if they are registereted and they are not. This is illegal on a federal lever as it is the unauthorized practice of law (37 C.F.R. 11.505). They are practicing illegally and are making it hard to complete. Any suggestions as to what I should do? 


Matt, there is not much you can do about the people practicing illegally on here. I have similar issues in my field with unethical and sometimes illegal practices by other grant professionals (or those calling themselves such) on Upwork. Your best way of dealing with this is to make a point of it both in your profile and proposal that you are a licensed and registered patent agent and anyone they hire to do the work should be as well. Don't put down other freelancers, just point out that you are licensed and registered and give them the link to where they can check your credentials. 

 

Some clients are still going to hire people without credentials at bottom feeder rates. Those aren't your target clientele anyhow. If these other freelancers are doing something illegal, you could report them to the appropriate authority or report their profiles to Upwork. In my field, years ago I initially thought to do the same, but then realized I could never stop the proliferation of scammers or fraudulent freelancers claiming to have credentials they don't. I flag it when I see it outright, and otherwise just try to educate clients and people new to my field on industry standards. 

 

ETA: you might be getting outbid because your profile is pretty sparse. It mostly talks about you and your team, not what the client needs or the solutions you provide to the client. Landing Upwork clients and marketing through Upwork is not the same as through other platforms/vehicles. Your profile needs to be more about the client's needs and how you serve them than about your background or your team mindset. My guess would be your proposals make the same kind of mistake. So, if I were you, I'd take a look at improving those things and see if you don't become a more attractive hire. 

shivanandkaurav
Community Member

I am sorry Matt, but no license is required to draft a patent application for someone or to do a patent search. A patent agent qualification is needed only when someone is filing a patent application in patent office with his digital signature on behalf of his client on receiving a power of attorney or attending a hearing on behalf of the client and during litigation. I don't think anyone can cheat in such cases even if they want. People who are winning projects have got the drafting skills and searching skills and they are technically strong, hence winning bids on this platform.
And if you go by law, any kind of solicitation is not legal even by the actual law professionals.

Unfortunately, you are mistaken. In accordance with 37 C F.R. 11.505, one must be registered with the USPTO to prepare and prosecute patent applications for another or an business, LLC, etc.  If you write a patent application and provide it to someone for them to submit Pro Se you are participating in the unauthorized practice of law if you are not a patent practitioner. You are correct that a non practitioner may perform a search, but they may not provide a legal opinion on the search. A patent practitioner may as was decided In Sperry v. Florida 373 in 1963. 

Yeah, this is exactly the sort of thing that Upwork is not going to have its employees make decisions about.

Im starting to realize that. Im not really worried about it anymore. 

petra_r
Community Member


Matt G wrote:

In accordance with 37 C F.R. 11.505, one must be registered with the USPTO to prepare and prosecute patent applications for another or an business, 


What if the client is in Australia? Or France? Or South Africa? I know it comes as a surprise to some, but neither the known universe nor Upwork's business reach do not end at the US borders...


Matt G wrote:

Unfortunately, you are mistaken. In accordance with 37 C F.R. 11.505, one must be registered with the USPTO to prepare and prosecute patent applications for another or an business, LLC, etc.  If you write a patent application and provide it to someone for them to submit Pro Se you are participating in the unauthorized practice of law if you are not a patent practitioner. You are correct that a non practitioner may perform a search, but they may not provide a legal opinion on the search. A patent practitioner may as was decided In Sperry v. Florida 373 in 1963. 


So this applies to the US only. There are clients and freelancers from 180 countries on this platform. 

Section 37 C F.R. 11.505 describes the responsibility of a patent agent. It doesn't exclude anyone from writing a patent application or conducting a patent search.

Yes, a person who is not a patent attorney can not provide legal opinion, but then they can write it as technical opinion without going against the law.

You must be aware that the inventors can write, file and prosecute their own patent application in which they can take help of their friends/family members/employees or anyone they want.

Patent is not just a legal document. It is a Technolegal document, so without knowing the technical details, it can not be drafted.

You are just creating an issue for something which is a genuine practice and does not violate any law and the particular case you mentioned, is different than what generally goes on here in upwork. Here freelancers don't claim to be a patent attorney if they are not.

Hi Matt,

 

I believe you have two ways to go:

 

1. If you want to stick to your rates, you need to make a clear point that you are offering legal services with all the blah-blah behind it, hence the costs are higher. I would point out in the proposal (and maybe even on your profile) what is the difference between your services and much cheaper offers made by non-legit freelancers. 

2. If you want to make some money by lowering your rates and winning contracts over the non-legit offers, you may want to send proposals that would offer the client two options:

A/ A cheaper option offering assistance/suggestions that are not binding (i.e. a "non-professional service") - something that is equal to the offers of the others you want to compete with;

B/ The more expensive service which is a formal legal service, the one you'd provide outside UpWork - the one where you sign it with all your legal authority.  

 

I don't know if it makes much of sense for you, but maybe it's something to think about for a minute

 

 

BojanS
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Matt,

 

Could you please share with me via private message profiles you're referring to and any documentation/confirmation you have regarding their license status? I'd like to share that with the correct team for review.

 

Thank you! 

~ Bojan
Upwork
1782a469
Community Member

Good morning!

I think it would be good to mention the license in your profile, and you might also add a note "Beware dealing with a non-licensed patent agent". 

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