Summer's featured article

Introducing Patent Virtual Assistance

Robert Hodge, Office of Innovation Development

In an effort to expand the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Pro Se Assistance program, the Office of Innovation Development (OID) has launched a brand new Patent Virtual Assistance Pilot Program in partnership with select Patent and Trademark Resource Centers (PTRCs) throughout the United States. The first partnership is with the PTRC at the Broward County Main Library, located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. As the pilot program proceeds, we will look to expand it to other PTRC locations throughout the country. 

The purpose of the new pilot program is to offer one-on-one virtual assistance with a USPTO representative using a PTRC’s privately located, secure computer for a WebEx video conference. This service is available to individuals who have questions about the patent application process or would like to present a draft of their patent application for a cursory review, among other options. The purpose of these meetings is to provide education and assistance with the patent application process. USPTO employees, however, cannot give legal advice or make patentability determinations prior to an application being filed.

One of the advantages of using the WebEx video conference is the ability to share a computer screen. By doing so, both parties are able to look at the same document(s) together and have a knowledgeable discussion. In order to fully utilize this service, applicants are asked to bring any documents they would like assistance with in electronic form (such as on a USB drive). This will allow the files to be opened on the computer at the PTRC and shared via the screen-sharing feature. 

One early user of this new pilot program saw great value to the services offered and really appreciated the help he received, saying that he felt relieved about the application process because of the assistance he received.

For questions about this program, please contact OID at 866-767-3848 or innovationdevelopment@uspto.gov.

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Questions or Article Suggestions?

The USPTO gives you useful information and non-legal advice in the areas of patents and trademarks. The patent and trademark statutes and regulations should be consulted before attempting to apply for a patent or register a trademark. These laws and the application process can be complicated. If you have intellectual property that could be patented or registered as a trademark, the use of an attorney or agent who is qualified to represent you in the USPTO is advised.