A patent attorney with a history of deceitful misconduct has been suspended without automatic reinstatement after violating multiple Indiana Professional Conduct Rules related to a business he opened in Florida under an alias.
In 2019, pursuant to a conditional agreement for discipline, the Indiana Supreme Court suspended Robert Gray from practicing law in the Hoosier State for 30 days with automatic reinstatement for misconduct involving his Indiana-based law firm, The Gray Law Group, and its patent work with inventors. At the time, Gray was also consensually excluded from practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office without an admission of misconduct.
Gray wound down his Indiana law firm and relocated to Florida, where he created another company, The Inventor’s Platform, under the alias Nickolas Farbacks. TIP’s operations closely paralleled Gray’s previous Indiana business arrangements and shared many of the same infirmities.
Acting under his alias, Gray contracted with and directed paralegals, attorneys and others to provide services — including legal services — to TIP clients. TIP’s contracts with its customers generally forbade them from contacting the contract attorneys, and TIP paid those attorneys only a fraction of the attorney fees collected from the customers. Clients’ provisional patent applications were often drafted by nonlawyer TIP personnel without appropriate attorney supervision.
While Gray was excluded from practicing before the USPTO, he supervised contract attorneys’ patent work, answered any questions they had about the patent work and discouraged them from communicating with the clients.
Finally, during the course of the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission’s investigation into Gray’s Florida conduct, the lawyer made several misrepresentations, including inaccurately depicting himself as a passive instead of an active participant in TIP.
The hearing officer and commission thus concluded Gray violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rules:
- 8.1(a): Knowingly making a false statement of material fact to the disciplinary commission in connection with a disciplinary matter.
- 8.4(a): Attempting to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assisting another to do so or doing so through the acts of another.
- 8.4(c): Engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.
Given Gray’s prior discipline for similar misconduct and the dishonesty involved in the case, the Supreme Court agreed with the Disciplinary Commission that a suspension without automatic reinstatement is warranted.
In a Tuesday order, the court suspended Gray from the practice of law in Indiana for a period of not less than 90 days without automatic reinstatement, effective immediately.
Gray must fulfill all the duties of a suspended attorney under Admission and Discipline Rule 23(26). At the conclusion of the minimum period of suspension, Gray can petition the Indiana Supreme Court for reinstatement to the practice of law in the state provided he pays the costs of the proceeding, fulfills the duties of a suspended attorney and satisfies the requirements for reinstatement of Admission and Discipline Rule 23.
The costs of the disciplinary proceeding have been assigned to Gray.
According to the Indiana Roll of Attorneys, Gray is a lawyer in Sarasota, Florida, and has had two concluded disciplinary actions since 2011, including the instant case, 21S-DI-44.
Editor’s note: This article has been corrected.