Integrity

It’s one of those things that is quite difficult to define. Any attempt to come up with a rigorous and clear definition meets the same problem that the US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart found when trying to define “obscenity”. He resorted to saying “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.” I don’t think I can do much better with “integrity”.

Nevertheless, as patent attorneys we have to act with integrity. Some would say we have to because we are a profession, and integrity is intrinsic to professional conduct. Others might say that we have to because the rules say we do; Rule 5 of our Rules of Conduct is entitled “Integrity” and it says “Regulated persons shall at all times act with integrity putting their clients’ interests foremost subject to the law and any overriding duty to any Court or Tribunal”. It goes on to offer guidance, which includes “A regulated person should not do anything that might compromise […] the dignity and good standing of the regulated person, or of the patent or trade mark professions”. Either way, we have to act with integrity, even if we find it difficult to define.

So I was amused to see that Fry Heath & Spence, about whom I have written before, has a five star rating on Google Reviews:

That seems odd, a firm that has been censured by IPReg, our regulator, after a partner there engaged in a “deception” that illustrated a “lack of integrity”, and a “laissez-faire attitude to the interests of his client”, and an internal investigation that was described as demonstrating “systemic failings”. But wait – the rating is based on only one review. Perhaps we should look more closely at that single review?

Hmmm. It appears to be by a “Graham Lock”. Would that be the same Graham Lock who is a partner in Fry Heath & Spence:

The coincidence seem quite strong…?

But surely Graham Lock would not deliberately give his own firm a five star review? As I said, I can’t come up with a secure definition of “integrity”, or its converse, but I think I see one them here…?

You might say this is a trivial matter, and you would be right. But it does bring to mind the phrase “the thin end of the wedge”.

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