Free resources inventors and entrepreneurs need to know about
Blog by Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTODo you know about the free resources the USPTO offers for inventors and entrepreneurs? From free legal assistance to patent and trademark boot camps, each of our programs provides one-on-one assistance and aims to meet you wherever you are on your innovation journey.
Patent and trademark basics
Our Path to a Patent quarterly webinar series covers everything from intellectual property (IP) basics to patent searching to what you’ll need to draft and submit your patent application. The series is part of our ongoing IP training for independent inventors, entrepreneurs, and small businesses.
In addition, our Trademark Basics series is in its 10th cycle and is offered regularly throughout the year. Each module focuses on different aspects of trademarks and the registration process, from filing and examination to post-registration requirements for keeping your registration alive. And, of course, time for your specific trademark questions.
Patent and Trademark One-day Boot CampsA new program launched last year, our single-day Patent and Trademark Boot Camps provide in-person, comprehensive overviews of how to file for a patent or register a trademark. Different from our patent and trademark webinars, these in-person workshops visit communities with limited or no internet access and cover what all entrepreneurs, small businesses, and start-ups should know about patents and trademarks. View our schedule of upcoming patent and trademark boot camps, and learn more about our outreach and education programs aimed at reaching aspiring innovators by working with national organizations on our AccessUSPTO page.
Free legal assistance (pro bono) programs
At the USPTO, we recognize that the cost of hiring legal representation can be a barrier for some inventors when applying to protect their intellectual property. To address this barrier, we launched the Patent Pro Bono Program to provide free legal assistance to financially under-resourced inventors and small businesses for the purpose of securing patent protection. Each regional program provides services for residents of one or more states. Based on the success of the Patent Pro Bono Program, we also launched a Trademark Trial and Appeal Board Pro Bono Program and Patent Trial and Appeal Board Pro Bono Program.
Law School Clinic Certification Program
Law School Clinic students visit the USPTO (Photo by Jay Premack/USPTO)
Additionally, our Law School Clinic Certification Program includes over 62 participating law schools that provide free legal services to eligible members of the public. Each year, students at the participating law schools assist numerous inventors, entrepreneurs, and small businesses with preparing, filing, and prosecuting patent and trademark applications. We recently announced that we have extended the submission deadline for the program to January 5, 2024, to encourage more law schools to join. With greater law school participation, we can make an even greater impact. Find out more about the Law School Clinic Certification Program and how your law school can apply to participate in the program.
Patent and Trademark Resources Centers (PTRCs)
PTRC training at the USPTO’s Global Intellectual Property Academy (Photo by Jay Premack/USPTO)
Another way to connect directly with someone for assistance with your IP questions is through our Patent and Trademark Resource Centers Program (PTRC). Located in more than 80 public, state, and academic libraries across the country, PTRC library staff are trained by the USPTO on how to use search tools to access patent and trademark information and connect individuals to our resources. They provide the human touch that no webpage or legal book can in helping inventors and small businesses find the information they need to protect their intellectual property. And very soon, the PTRCs will be providing training in even more locations. Find a PTRC near you!
Empowering Women’s Entrepreneurship (WE)
The Women’s Entrepreneurship kickoff event took place on November 30, 2022 at the USPTO. The program featured stories and advice from successful women leaders, entrepreneurs, and funders as well as resources to help women get started, protect their IP, fund their ideas, and expand their network of mentors and advisors. Watch the recording. (Photo by Jay Premack/USPTO)
Launched in November 2022, our Women’s Entrepreneurship initiative is a community-focused, collaborative, and creative initiative to encourage and empower more women business founders across America. This program, which builds on the proven success of the USPTO’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium, features advice from those who have made it as well as resources to help women protect their intellectual property, fund their ideas, and expand their network of mentors and advisors. WE is near and dear to my heart, as a former business owner, investor, and adviser.
These are just a few of our free resources available to inventors and entrepreneurs. To find more,
• Visit our Access Free Services page and Inventor and Entrepreneurs Resources page,
• Learn about upcoming programs on our events page,
• Subscribe to our email alerts to be the first to know the latest updates, or
• Contact us with questions or for more information!
Our goal is for the innovation system to be as diverse and inclusive as our country by working to provide equitable access for all. We hope to hear from you or see you at one of our upcoming trainings and events!