Free Inventor Patent Pro-Bono Assistance Programs in the United States
Are you looking for a free inventor patent pro-bono assistance program? Whether you have a new invention or you need patent assistance, there are several programs in the United States that can provide valuable legal help. USPTO is actively involved in promoting these programs and has developed a partnership with many intellectual property organizations to make them available to as many people as possible. In addition, the USPTO will often provide additional information to specific communities.
LegalCORPS Inventor Assistance Program
LegalCORPS has developed an Inventor Assistance Program to help low-income Alaskans with their patent applications. This program provides free legal representation to low-income inventors who qualify for the program. Applicants must pay a placement fee of $50 and any patent fees they have to pay the USPTO. Attorneys can also advise applicants on how to avoid costly mistakes that could prevent them from getting their invention protected.
To apply for the Inventor Assistance Program, applicants must submit a Record of Invention, an application for a provisional patent, and other necessary documents. Once accepted, applicants will need to complete a provisional patent application and receive screening by a panel of volunteer patent attorneys. They will receive professional legal help filing a provisional patent application. LegalCORPS also holds workshops on protecting intellectual property.
California Inventors Assistance Program
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is supporting the creation of a new California Inventors Assistance Program that will provide pro bono patent assistance to low-income inventors. The program stems from the America Invents Act mandate that all states establish a regional center for patent pro bono. Minnesota has launched its patent pro bono program in June 2011; Colorado’s began in April 2012. The California project has an advisory committee that includes Intel Corp., Fenwick & West, and California Lawyers for the Arts. It is funded through the state’s State Bar and is expected to run for five years.
The program’s eligibility criteria are very broad, but can include under-resourced inventors and small businesses that cannot afford legal representation. In addition to identifying under-resourced inventors, the program also looks for small businesses that have no means to pay an attorney to protect their intellectual property. To identify applicants, CLA sends out an invention questionnaire that requires an extensive explanation. Once the questionnaire is complete, CLA matches the applicants with appropriate attorneys for their case.
For those who qualify, LegalCORPS’s Inventor Assistance Program is another resource for low-income inventors. This program provides free legal representation to low-income inventors in six states. The only costs associated with the program are the placement fee and USPTO fees. LegalCORPS attorneys will advise you on what you need to pay for patent filing. If you’re interested in applying to be a volunteer, apply here.
Texas Inventors Assistance Program
The Texas Inventors Assistance Program is available to Texas residents who want to make their inventions a reality. The organization offers financial assistance to those who make less than a certain income level. This income limit varies by region, but it’s usually 300% of the federal poverty level, or $35,310 for a single individual. The current federal poverty level is $11,770, so if you make more than that, you won’t qualify for the program.
The Texas Inventors Assistance Program was started to help small business owners who are low-income and don’t have the funds to hire a patent attorney. The TALA has partnered with the US Patent and Trademark Office to offer free legal representation to these individuals. Since the program is not legal counsel, a TALA attorney can provide representation at no cost, which is a great benefit for Texas residents. The pro bono office leader, Kelly Jackson, has agreed to continue to run the pro bono office, assisting with the transition.
Washington Inventors Assistance Program
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is working to expand its Free Inventor Patent Pro-Bono Assistance Program to all fifty states. USPTO deputy director Michelle Lee stated in a recent blog post that her office is “making great strides” toward the goal of helping independent inventors and small businesses in need. The program is also an important part of the Administration’s commitment to level the playing field for all entrepreneurs.
To qualify for a Free Inventor Patent Pro-Bono Assistance Program, inventors must live in a participating state, earn less than 300% of the Federal poverty level, and have an invention they would like to patent. The program matches an inventor with a volunteer patent attorney in their state. The Washington State program accepts applications from inventors who reside in California, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.
USPTO requires applicants to submit a Certificate of Completion to prove their financial status. Applicants should submit a valid tax return with their Social Security number obscured. Additionally, applicants should submit their latest tax returns. The USPTO also requires that applicants submit a $50 application fee. To qualify for a Free Inventor Patent Pro-Bono Assistance Program, an inventor must have an actual invention, a prototype, and a detailed drawing of how the invention works.
A Washington State-based Pro-Bono Assistance Program matches low-income inventors with volunteer patent attorneys to assist them in filing their patent applications. As a result, the program is creating new opportunities for economic growth and job creation. However, the program’s success depends on its ability to match inventors with the appropriate patent attorneys. Further, the program requires the participation of a variety of volunteers.
As of early 2018, the USPTO has partnered with state and local bar associations to expand its Patent Pro Bono Assistance Program. In Michigan, for example, the State Bar’s Intellectual Property Law Association established a program in Detroit. In Minnesota, the program has already achieved success, with 14 Minnesota inventors securing patent protection for their inventions. Thirty-five other Minnesota inventors are currently represented by volunteer attorneys.
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