Inventors and small businesses that meet certain financial thresholds and other criteria 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 match volunteer patent professionals with financially under-resourced inventors and small businesses for the purpose of securing patent protection. Each regional program provides services for residents of one or more states. Please watch this short series of videos to learn more.
Each of the regional programs may have different requirements for admission. In general, the requirements for admission are:
Your gross household income should be less than three times the federal poverty level guidelines though some regional programs may have different criteria.
You must demonstrate knowledge of the patent system in one of two ways:
- Having a provisional application already on file with the USPTO, or
- Successful completion of the certificate training course (certificado de formación en español).
You must be able to describe the particular features of the invention and how it works.
Because the specific requirements of income, knowledge, and invention vary by program, you should contact your regional program for specific information. Learn more by selecting your regional program on the Patent Pro Bono Coverage Map below.
How to Apply for Patent Pro Bono Assistance & Coverage of Patent Pro Bono Program
On the above map, click on the state you live in to apply directly to the regional program for your state. All regional programs provide online application forms.
How to Volunteer
Registered patent practitioners are critical to the success of the Patent Pro Bono Program. If you are a patent practitioner interested in volunteering your legal services, click on your state in the Patent Pro Bono Coverage Map and fill out an online volunteer application form found on the program’s website.
Patent Pro Bono Informational Videos
Please watch this short series of videos to learn more about the Patent Pro Bono Program.
Contact the Patent Pro Bono Program
Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Credit
Registered patent attorneys who volunteer for the Patent Pro Bono Program may be eligible to receive CLE credit through their state bar. Attorneys are encouraged to check with their state bar(s) to determine whether participation in the Patent Pro Bono Program qualifies for state CLE credit.
Other free legal resources
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Pro Bono Program matches under-resourced applicants who meet certain eligibility requirements with volunteer patent professionals to provide free legal assistance for ex parte appeals. 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 services to members of the public in proceedings before the TTAB, and who might not otherwise have affordable access to legal assistance (such as financially under-resourced individuals, small-to-medium-enterprises, and not-for-profit and nonprofit or charitable organizations with low operation budgets). Each recognized clearinghouse organization has different requirements for accepting new clients, and matches eligible clients with volunteer member attorneys.