Small Business Owner: Patent Pro Bono Program


Part 6 of Patent Pro Bono Program Series

Published on Jun 06, 2018

An interview with a small business owner describing how she applied to the program and the benefits of participating.


Patent Pro Bono Program Series

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My name is Kimberly Armstrong.

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I'm a small business owner here in Maryland.

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And we are an environmentally sustainable
development consulting firm, and we also have

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a component where we are looking at introducing
innovation in biomedical technology as it

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relates to health disparities in minority
communities.

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I was a little familiar with the patent program
from just my own research and basic information.

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So I did a search on how to develop patent
and what's the process.

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And where do I start?

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Even how to get a patent filed.

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I found that they had a pro bono services
program and it was a process that you had

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to go through to quantify.

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I once again started doing my own research.

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I made a couple of phone calls.

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Um, found out some of the things I had to
do to get the ball rolling.

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The process does ask you about your income
level, economic status, and you have to meet

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a certain requirement to even do the application.

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All of it's online so you can, um, it's just
a link to click on and fill out the application

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and someone will get back to you.

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The next step was like a tutorial.

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They actually, it's like a little quiz.

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They ask you to go through, so you understand
what the process is, and actually filing a

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patent application as well as some of the
other things that you will have to do to be

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accepted.

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In the end, if you pass, you get a nice little
certificate.

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After I was accepted into the program maybe,
I would say, between two to four weeks someone

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from a law firm called me and gave me some
more information on, you know, what was the

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next step.

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My expectation on them, as well as their expectations
for me and they, wanted to know more about

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the technology.

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You have to sign an engagement letter, that's
an agreement that they are going to represent

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us, as well as, even though it's pro bono,
there are services... there are some fees

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that have to be paid.

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Those fees are strictly for the patent office,
not so much for the law firm.

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There's also a disclosure form, talking about
the technology, what's the novelty of it,

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what's the name of it, those kinds of things.

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Once we did the disclosure form, um, they
look at that to determine what it is we may

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need... more information and to put everything
we can think about into the application, so

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there is less room to go back and forth.

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The company, the law firm I'm working with
- they have been excellent!

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They had been tremendous and helped us brainstorming
on what else we can put into the application

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so that there is more of a chance that it
gets accepted. On almost the first time.

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You can't get better than free!

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I mean, or at least at minimum cost.

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Its not costing me a lot of money, even for
the fees.

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It's really not a lot and we pay those up front.

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If the process takes a little bit longer,
there may be some additionals fees but still,

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it's nothing compared to what I paid before.