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.
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.
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
Use the map below, to locate your regional program. Most regional programs provide online application forms. Keep in mind that your state may be covered by a regional program that is located in another state. Alternatively, you may complete a National Clearinghouse Applications Submission form provided by the Federal Circuit’s National Clearinghouse.
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.