The United States Patent and Trademark Office's (USPTO) Council for Inclusive Innovation (CI2 ) works to increase participation in the innovation ecosystem, which includes intellectual property (IP), by communities that are typically underrepresented. To support this mission, we are developing new initiatives to bolster participation in innovation, including entrepreneurship and invention, by those historically left on the outside of such pursuits. Our goal is to strengthen economic competitiveness for all Americans by collaborating on these and other initiatives with like-minded organizations.
Innovation internship program
We aim to teach the next generation the value of innovation and protecting IP and encourage a more inclusive talent pipeline. To that end, CI2 is helping the USPTO establish paid internships to provide hands-on training to community college and university students.
These interns will learn about the USPTO’s role in protecting IP. The interns will also learn about the USPTO’s work in granting patents and trademarks, as well as other work to foster innovation. Our first group of interns have joined the USPTO in January 2023.
First-time filer expedited examination pilot program
The USPTO receives approximately 40,000 patent applications annually that name at least one inventor who is a first-time application filer. For some first-time filers, speeding up the process of securing a patent could accelerate their ability to receive a return on their investment—by starting companies, securing capital, and creating jobs.
This new fast-track program will provide expedited examination and early indication of patentability for such first-time filers. It will include extra support, including required training. The program launched on March 9, 2023 with the publication in the federal register notice. Please visit https://www.uspto.gov/FirstTimePatentFiler for more information on this initiative.
Expansion of free legal services
By expanding access to free (“pro bono”) legal services, we can assist more underresourced innovators, protect their ideas, and bring them to market. To that end, we are expanding both our Law School Clinic Certification Program and our support of our regional Patent Pro Bono Program.
The Law School Clinic Certification Program includes more than 60 participating clinics that provide legal services at no charge to inventors and small-business owners. We also support 21 regional pro bono patent attorney programs nationwide through the Patent Pro Bono Program and look to increase that number.
Community outreach campaign
We employ more than 12,000 USPTO employees nationwide. Their experience and knowledge can help underserved and underresourced communities pursue innovation and entrepreneurship and learn how to protect their IP.
In early 2023, we will pilot IP Champions, a program through which USPTO employees can volunteer to use their expertise to educate the public on the importance of IP. The goal is to increase IP literacy and promote IP participation by everyone. IP Champions will build on the great outreach work already being done by the USPTO and our collaborators.
More about inclusive innovation
Visit our inclusive innovation page to find more information on IP resources that support the innovators of tomorrow.
Please email us at CI2@uspto.gov for more information, or if you want to join us or share ideas about expanding innovation.