Connecting eligible inventors and entrepreneurs with free legal assistance for patent and trademark issues
Are you in need of free legal assistance for issues related to patents or trademarks? We can help!
We invite you to take advantage of one of our free legal assistance (pro bono) programs that connect eligible individuals with volunteer legal counsel. And please check out our new blog on free resources for inventors and entrepreneurs, which dives into our programs that provide no-cost, one-on-one assistance wherever you are on your innovation journey. Read on for a sample of some of these great programs.
The Patent Pro Bono Program is a nationwide network of independently operated regional programs that match volunteer patent professionals with financially underresourced inventors and small businesses. Applicants for pro bono assistance who meet certain financial thresholds and other criteria may be eligible for free legal support when preparing and filing a patent application. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
If an inventor’s application is denied, or “rejected,” by the USPTO, the inventor can seek free legal assistance to help prepare an appeal to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) through the PTAB Pro Bono Program (known as an “ex parte” appeal). The PTAB is a neutral body that functions like a court for patent matters at the USPTO. To participate in the PTAB Pro Bono Program, an applicant must meet certain eligibility requirements. The PTAB Bar Association administers the program. Email PTABprobono@uspto.gov if you have any questions.
Similarly, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) is a neutral body that functions like a court for trademark matters at the USPTO. If an applicant whose trademark application was rejected by the USPTO wants to appeal the rejection, or if the validity of a registered mark is challenged, it can often come before the TTAB. The TTAB Pro Bono Clearinghouse Program recognizes organizations that coordinate free legal services for eligible members of the public—including financially underresourced individuals, small and medium-sized enterprises, and nonprofit or charitable organizations with low operating budgets—in proceedings before the TTAB. Each recognized clearinghouse organization has different requirements for accepting new clients and matches eligible applicants with volunteer member attorneys. We welcome all questions at TTAB@uspto.gov.
Additionally, our Law School Clinic Certification Program includes over 60 participating law school clinics that provide free legal services to eligible members of the public, including inventors, entrepreneurs, and small businesses. Each participating law school has requirements for accepting new clients and accepts new clients at their discretion. A list of participating law schools and their contact information can be found on the Law School Clinic Certification Program page of our website. Questions can be sent to email@example.com.
“By meeting people where they are with these free legal services, the USPTO is working to strengthen our innovation economy by making it more inclusive and equitable for all,” remarked Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and USPTO Director Kathi Vidal. “Pro bono counsel serve as a valuable bridge to the innovation economy by providing critical assistance to underrepresented inventors.” For example, our data shows that while women make up about 13% of U.S. inventors, 43% of those who utilize our pro bono services identify as women, while 35% identify as African American or Black, 14% identify as Hispanic American, 5.7% as Asian American or Native Pacific Islander, and 1.5% as Native American.
We encourage all those interested in free legal services for patent and trademark issues to learn more about our pro bono programs. And if you’re an intellectual property practitioner interested in potentially assisting the next game-changing inventor or entrepreneur, please consider donating your expertise and time through these programs. Email one of the relevant inboxes above to get started.
The innovation economy awaits!