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Washington - The U.S. Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced a new charter agreement placing the continued success of regional pro bono programs in the hands of a newly-formed advisory council. More than 30 representatives from regional inventor assistance programs, major intellectual property (IP) law associations and IP law school programs participated in a ceremonial signing with Chief Judge Randall Rader at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on October 25, 2013.
Under Section 32 of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA), the USPTO is required 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." Following the June 2011 launch of the first program in Minnesota, the USPTO has been interacting with IP law associations to assist in the establishment of additional programs across the country. Currently there are seven regional programs covering more than 20 states offering pro bono assistance to inventors and small businesses. The USPTO hopes to see regional pro bono programs covering all 50 states by early 2015.
"Today, we take a huge step forward with the formation of an Advisory Council that will promote the existing pro bono programs and those yet to come," said Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Teresa Stanek Rea. Ms. Rea participated in the signing ceremony on October 25, 2013 with Chief Judge Randall Rader at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. "It is not the USPTO that makes these programs work for inventors and small businesses, but each of you who have played such an instrumental role in their creation."
"I'd like to express my great appreciation for all of those who have made this such a success," said Chief Judge Randall Rader. "I think this is a day we can all be proud of."
For more information on the pro bono program, including which states are currently accepting clients, please visit www.uspto.gov/inventors/proseprobono.
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