If you’re an inventor or small business owner, you may be eligible for free legal assistance in preparing and filing a patent application. The Patent Pro Bono Program is a nationwide network of independently operated regional programs that matches volunteer patent attorneys and agents with financially under-resourced inventors and small businesses to provide free legal assistance in securing patent protection. Watch this series of short videos to learn more about the program.
While each regional program in the national network may have distinct admission guidelines, these are the common requirements, generally speaking:
Income - Your gross household income should be less than three times the federal poverty level guidelines (though some regional programs may have different criteria)
Knowledge - demonstrated understanding of the patent system either by having a provisional application already on file with the USPTO or having successfully completed the certificate training course (certificado de formación en español).
Invention - ability to describe the particular features of your invention and how it works
Because specific income, knowledge, and invention requirements vary by program, contact your regional program for specific information by using the Patent Pro Bono Coverage Map below.
On the above map, select the state you live in to apply directly to the regional program serving your state. All regional programs provide online application forms for free patent assistance.
How to volunteer
The Patent Pro Bono Program needs registered patent attorneys and agents ready to serve inventors and small business owners facing financial obstacles to fulfilling their patent goals. If you’re interested in volunteering free legal services, select your state in the Patent Pro Bono Coverage Map to submit an online volunteer application form.
Watch our video series
UAIA Study of Patent Pro Bono Programs
On December 29, 2023, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) transmitted to Congress a study required by the Unleashing American Innovators Act (UAIA). The study looked at data captured from the patent pro bono programs since 2015, comments solicited through two public listening sessions, and written comments submitted via a Federal Register Notice, and found that the Patent Pro Bono Program is expanding access to the patent system to financially under resourced independent inventors and small businesses. Information on the study can be found here.
Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Credit
Registered patent attorneys who volunteer for the Patent Pro Bono Program may be eligible for CLE credit through state bar associations. Attorneys admitted to the bar in any state may check with that association to determine whether their participation qualifies for CLE credit.
Other free legal resources
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Pro Bono Program matches qualifying under-resourced patent applicants with volunteer patent professionals to provide free legal assistance for ex parte appeals (of final rejections by patent examiners). The PTAB Pro Bono Program is administered by the PTAB Bar Association.
The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) Pro Bono Clearinghouse Program recognizes organizations that coordinate free legal assistance to those with proceedings before the TTAB and who might not otherwise have affordable access to legal assistance. Each recognized clearinghouse organization has different requirements for accepting new clients, and matches eligible clients with volunteer attorneys.