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Pro Bono

The America Invents Act (AIA) encourages the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to "work with and support intellectual property law associations across the country in the establishment of pro bono programs designed to assist financially under-resourced independent inventors and small businesses." 

Nationwide Pro Bono Program Information



You can download the video here. The transcript is available here.

Currently, at least part or all of 20 states have pro bono programs offering assistance, with more slated to begin operation in 2014 and 2015. The current pro bono programs is limited to residents of:

Alaska    Arizona    California    Colorado    Delaware    District of Columbia 
Hawaii    Idaho    Louisiana    Maryland    Massachusetts    Minnesota    Nevada  New York   North Carolina  Ohio    Oregon    Pennsylvania                    

South Carolina   Eastern Tennessee  Texas    Virginia    Washington    Wyoming

If your state is listed above, Pro-bono assistance is available, to be considered and apply go to the Federal Circuit Bar Association National Clearing House

If your state is not listed above please do not apply for assistance at this time.  Additional States will be added to this list and the state resource map during 2014.  By the end of 2015 it is anticipate that all 50 states will have a pro bono program to assist inventors and small businesses.

An online portal serves as a clearinghouse and is operated by the Federal Circuit Bar Association. The clearinghouse portal will require you to provide contact information and answer a few questions to determine eligibility for the program. It also will require you to provide basic information about your invention, including a brief description, to help in the referral process. Should your application pass the first level of screening at the national clearinghouse, it will be forwarded to the appropriate regional program. All following correspondence will come from the regional program.

Acceptance into a regional pro bono program requires each potential pro bono client to be screened for certain criteria. Some of these criteria criteria are listed below:

  1. Gross household income – region dependent, but most limited to 300% of the poverty levels
    Example 1 -  a single person could have an income of up to $34,470 (3 times the current single person poverty level of $11,490);
    Example 2 - a family of 4 could have a gross income of up to $70,650 (3 times the current family of 4 poverty level of $23,550).
  2. Knowledge of the patent system – demonstrated by having an application on file with the USPTO or by successfully completing the certificate training course. Many regional pro bono programs require successful completion of the certificate training to be considered for the program.
  3. Having an invention, not merely an idea – to demonstrate that there is an invention one should be able to describe the invention so that someone could make and use the invention.

The USPTO does not conduct or sponsor collection of your information through the portal. Any information you provide goes directly to the national clearinghouse and will not be sent to the USPTO.

Additional questions may be directed to the USPTO mailbox probono@USPTO.GOV


Pro Se

This page is designed for those inventors that are either filing on their own behalf (pro se) or are seeking free or greatly reduced services from patent professionals. This page is meant to be actively dynamic so that as rules change or practices before the United States Patent and Trademark Office change the page will be updated with current information. The pro se portion of the page will eventually contain training on the patent process, training on search techniques, sample provisional applications and direct links to forms and fees needed for filing a patent application. The pro bono portion of the page will eventually contain vital information about the pro bono program as it increases in size to eventually cover the entire United States. Initially the page will include a training package with a certification certificate for successfully completing the training. This certification is one of many requirements to be considered for pro bono assistance. There will also be a link to a national screening program for admittance into any regional pro bono program. This process will be further explained on the pro bono page.

United States Patent and Trademark Office
This page is owned by Inventor Resources.
Last Modified: 5/16/2014 1:19:57 PM