The Programs area features information about Congressionally-mandated programs for the USPTO to establish under the AIA.


Pro Bono

The AIA directs the USPTO to work with intellectual property law associations across the country in order to establish pro bono programs for financially under-resourced inventors and small businesses.

Eligibility and acceptance to any regional pro bono program will be determined by an initial screening process. The screening will evaluate the individual's or small business' knowledge of the patent system, the potential patentability of the invention, and income qualifications. The patent knowledge requirement can be demonstrated by producing a filing receipt for a pending patent application or a certificate of completion for a free general knowledge course. An invention's patentability can be demonstrated through a patent search for similar prior art. The qualification of income limit is determined by each regional program. Visit the Pro Bono Program page for additional information.

Diversity of Applicants

The AIA requires the USPTO to establish methods for studying patent applicant diversity, including applicants who are women, minorities, and veterans. The Office of the Chief Economist is devising methods to collect this information while ensuring that it does not result in preferential treatment for any groups or individuals. The methods of study must be established within 6 months from the date of enactment (i.e., by March 16, 2012).

The USPTO invites the public to provide comments on collecting information on the diversity of patent applicants consistent with the AIA. The deadline for comments is January 31, 2014.

Patent Ombudsman for Small Businesses

The AIA requires the USPTO to maintain a Patent Ombudsman Program providing patent filing support and services to small businesses and independent inventors. The USPTO has many existing programs to help small businesses and independent inventors, including the Inventors Assistance Center and an Ombudsman Program launched in April 2010 for all applicants. The Ombudsman Program assists applicants and their representatives with concerns about their patent applications and issues that arise during prosecution. The USPTO will continue working to provide small businesses and independent inventors with the specialized help they need to address their unique concerns. For more information about the Patent Ombudsman, consult the Patent Ombudsman web page. To contact the Patent Ombudsman, please call 571-272-5555 or 1-855-559-8589.

Satellite Offices

Congress requires the USPTO to establish three satellite offices within three years of the date of enactment (i.e., by September 16, 2014). The purposes of these satellite offices are to increase outreach activities, enhance employee retention, improve recruiting, decrease the application backlog, and improve examination quality. In choosing office locations, the USPTO must consider creating geographic diversity, recruiting a technically skilled workforce at low cost, and the economic impact on the region. The USPTO plans to open the first satellite office in Detroit, Michigan as the ''Elijah J. McCoy United States Patent and Trademark Office." Other locations will be selected using the process described in the AIA.