How to volunteer
Are you a patent practitioner and interested in providing pro bono services for eligible inventors? If so, you can volunteer by applying directly with the regional Patent Pro Bono Program in the state or region in which you practice.
When filing pro bono, consider including Form AIA/440, Certification of Pro Bono Representation. This form certifies that a filing was pro bono to better track assistance provided to financially under-resourced inventors and small businesses. The form is selectable in the Electronic Filing System.
Pro Bono - FAQs
Does the Patent Pro Bono Program provide malpractice insurance for volunteer attorneys?
No, the Patent Pro Bono Program does not provide malpractice insurance for volunteer attorneys. However, some regional Patent Pro Bono Programs do provide separate malpractice insurance. For specific information regarding malpractice insurance, contact your regional Patent Pro Bono Program.
How are volunteer attorneys paired with eligible inventors for representation?
Volunteer patent attorneys will be matched with inventors based on the field of the invention and the volunteer attorney's expertise in, or knowledge of, that field, taking into account conflicts issues.
What responsibilities will attorney volunteers have in representing pro bono clients as part of the Patent Pro Bono Program?
The scope of services provided under the regional Patent Pro Bono Program is designed to be flexible, accommodating the needs of both the volunteer attorney and the inventor. An engagement letter between the volunteer attorney and the client is strongly recommended. This engagement letter will generally define the scope of the representation. In general, services are focused on preparation, filing, and prosecution of a patent application before the USPTO.
May examiners volunteer to represent pro bono clients as part of the Patent Pro Bono Program?
No, the examiners may not represent pro bono clients through the Patent Pro Bono Program due to federal ethics restrictions.
Patent Pro Bono Program volunteer recognition
We want to recognize all patent practitioners who dedicate their professional expertise to make the Patent Pro Bono Program a success. Registered patent practitioners who volunteer their services are often engaged in very busy practices, which makes their pro bono contributions all the more meaningful. In appreciation, we offer the Patent Pro Bono Achievement Certificate* to:
- Eligible registered patent practitioners who volunteer with a regional patent pro bono program
- Eligible law firms or corporations who support their registered patent practitioners’ efforts
Individual achievement certificate and public recognition
All registered patent practitioners who have contributed at least 50 hours of pro bono service through one of the regional patent pro bono programs in a calendar year will be eligible for a certificate. Recipients may also choose to have their names listed on our website for public recognition.
Please contact your regional patent pro bono program for more information.
Law firm or corporate achievement certificate and public recognition
The USPTO also provides Pro Bono achievement certificates recognizing law firms or corporations for their accomplishments in patent pro bono service for each calendar year. The certificates will be available to law firms and corporations having registered practitioners who cumulatively contribute a minimum number hours to one or more participating regional patent pro bono programs. The minimum number of hours required will vary by the number of registered practitioners employed. Recipient law firms and corporations may also choose to have their names listed on our website for public recognition.
Law Firm and corporate achievement certificate minimum hours
No. Reg. Practitioners Employed
Patent lawyers Amy Salmela and Mark Privratsky created a video to help volunteer attorneys get the most out of their pro bono experience: Patent Law Pro Bono: A Best Practices Guide.
Click here for the Practitioner Flyer
* Availability of the Certificates and public recognition is subject to the voluntary participation of each regional patent pro bono program. Each regional patent pro bono program is independent of the USPTO.