A Skokie-based maker of products to enhance stem-cell
therapies has sued its former patent lawyers for $3 million, alleging their “incompetence”
over the past two years cost them the chance to secure patents on certain stem
cell therapy innovations and market the associated products.
On Dec. 9, JoinTechLabs Inc. filed suit in Cook County
Circuit Court against attorney Robert L. Knechtel, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based
patent lawyer associated with the Chicago intellectual property law firm of
In the complaint, JoinTechLabs said it hired Knechtel and his
firm in January 2014 to file several patent applications with the U.S. Patent
and Trademark Office, and attend to other legal matters between the company and
However, in the months and years that followed, the company
said Knechtel repeatedly failed to file required forms and meet deadlines
imposed by the USPTO.
For instance, JoinTechLabs referenced a letter it received
from Knechtel in August 2015, which accused the USPTO of mistakenly sending a “final
Office Action” from October 2014, which pertained to one of the patent
applications, to JoinTechLabs’ previous attorney.
However, JoinTechLabs said it later learned the USPTO did
not err in sending the notice to the company’s former lawyer, as Knechtel had
allegedly “failed to properly file a Power of Attorney and change of corresponding
address in the patent file.” While the USPTO purportedly had sent Knechtel
notice in May 2014 that his power of attorney application had been denied for
Knechtel’s alleged failure to file a certificate required by the USPTO, “he did
not attempt to resubmit a corrected Power of Attorney at that time,” the
The lawsuit further accused Knechtel of then attempting to
continue representing JoinTechLabs before the USPTO, even without the proper power
of attorney on file.
The lawsuit said Knechtel’s alleged failure “to follow the
proper procedures of the USPTO” caused their patent applications to become “abandoned.”
“(JoinTechLabs) lost valuable patent rights as a consequence
of Mr. Knechtel’s gross negligence and/or willful misconduct,” the lawsuit
In 2016, JoinTechLabs hired new lawyers to replace Knechtel.
Yet even in the face of repeated demands for the required documents related to
JoinTechLabs’ patent applications, Knechtel has yet to produce certain key
documents and filings, the complaint said.
As a result of Knechtel’s alleged “incompetent action,”
JoinTechLabs said their patent applications have never been filed, and their
patent rights have remained unsecured.
The lawsuit included a count of legal malpractice against
Knechtel and the Wiemelt Knechtel firm.
The plaintiffs have asked the court to award them $3.1 million.
It does not detail how the damages request was calculated.
JoinTechLabs is represented in the action by attorney Joseph
Cwik, of the firm of Amin Talati Upadhye, of Chicago.