As an attorney specializing in patents, one of the most common questions I receive from potential clients is the cost associated with obtaining a patent. Unfortunately, the expenses can quickly add up to thousands of dollars, which often leads inventors to feel discouraged and give up on their dreams. But don’t lose hope just yet! There is a solution that can provide you with the assistance you need without breaking the bank.
The Patent Pro Bono Program: Opening Doors for Inventors
The Patent Pro Bono Program, established by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, is a remarkable initiative that connects inventors with volunteer patent attorneys. These attorneys generously offer their time and expertise for free to help individuals who cannot afford the services of a traditional patent attorney. This program is a beacon of hope for inventors who are determined to succeed but lack the necessary financial resources.
Countless Success Stories
I’ve had the privilege of witnessing numerous inventors transform their lives through the Patent Pro Bono Program. Many of them went from humble beginnings to achieving great success thanks to the patents they obtained. The program not only significantly reduces the cost associated with securing a patent but also ensures that inventors receive the same level of representation as paying clients.
How Does the Program Work?
When you participate in the Patent Pro Bono Program, you only need to cover the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) fees and a nominal fee charged by the program administrator. The most expensive part of the patent process, the attorney fees, is waived. This means that you can obtain a patent at a fraction of the usual cost.
Furthermore, the volunteer patent attorney who represents you treats you as a regular client. This includes the attorney-client privilege, which guarantees the confidentiality of your discussions and protects you in a court of law. Rest assured, your idea will be secure and your journey to patent acquisition will be supported every step of the way.
Discovering the Patent Pro Bono Program
If you’re eager to explore the Patent Pro Bono Program, the first step is to identify the program administrator in your region. Nonprofit organizations oversee the program’s implementation, and each region has its own designated administrator. To find the administrator for your area, simply click here and navigate the color-coded map provided.
Unveiling the Benefits of the Patent Pro Bono Program
The Patent Pro Bono Program goes beyond providing inventors with mere token assistance. Instead, it offers a comprehensive approach by connecting inventors with dedicated volunteer patent attorneys who will guide them through the entire patent process.
As a participant in the program, you become a valued client of the attorney you are matched with. This means that you’ll benefit from their expertise and experience as they aid you in overcoming any hurdles that may arise during the patent journey. Additionally, the program ensures that your discussions and confidential information remain protected by the attorney-client privilege.
Financially, you are spared the burden of paying attorney fees. Instead, you only need to cover the USPTO fees and the nominal fee set by the program administrator. This alternative approach to obtaining a patent significantly reduces costs and makes the dream of patent ownership more accessible for inventors from all walks of life.
Applying to the Patent Pro Bono Program
If you’re ready to embark on your patent journey, let’s dive into the process of applying to the Patent Pro Bono Program.
Step 1: Finding the Administrator in Your Region
To begin, you’ll need to locate the program administrator in your region. Whether you’re in California, Texas, Chicago, New York, or any other part of the United States, there is a specific administrator for each area. The list of administrators is as follows:
- California: California Lawyers for the Arts
- Texas: Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts
- Chicago: Chicago-Kent College of Law
- New York: Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts
Visit Garrity Traina to access the map and easily find the administrator for your region.
Step 2: Understanding the Program Requirements
To qualify for the Patent Pro Bono Program, there are a few requirements you must meet. These include:
- Total household income must be less than three times the federal poverty guidelines.
- Demonstrating knowledge of the patent system through either filing your own provisional or nonprovisional patent application or attending a patent system seminar.
- Possessing a tangible invention, not just an idea.
While there is an income requirement, the specific threshold varies depending on the region. It’s essential to thoroughly investigate the income requirement set by your administrator. For example, in Chicago, the Chicago-Kent College of Law allows businesses to apply as long as their total gross income in the preceding calendar year is under $150,000.
Demonstrating Knowledge of the Patent System
You have two options for demonstrating your knowledge of the patent system:
- Filing a provisional patent application with the USPTO.
- Completing a certificate training course on the basics of the patent system.
It’s not uncommon for inventors to file a provisional patent application before seeking the help of a patent attorney. However, rest assured that any reputable patent attorney is bound by ethical rules to maintain the confidentiality of your ideas.
I highly recommend completing the certification training course, which lasts approximately 39 minutes and is entirely free. This course provides valuable insights into the patent system, enabling you to save time during consultations with your volunteer attorney.
Having an Invention, Not Just an Idea
An invention goes beyond a mere idea when you can effectively explain it to others, allowing them to replicate and utilize your creation. On the other hand, if your concept is still in its early stages, such as space travel to Mars, it remains an idea rather than an invention. The ability to articulate the technical details and manufacturing processes associated with your idea demonstrates its viability for patent protection.
Step 3: Completing the Application Forms
Each program administrator has their own unique application process and requirements. However, generally speaking, you will need to:
- Fill out a Financial Screening Application.
- Complete a patent certificate program called “Basic Patent Training for Independent Inventors and Small Businesses.”
For California inventors, the Financial Screening Application form is readily available. Other administrators may ask you to email them for the necessary forms. Visit the administrator’s website for your state and request the specific form applicable to your situation.
Remember, volunteer attorneys are generously sacrificing thousands of dollars in fees to assist you. Consequently, they need to ensure that the limited resources are allocated to those who genuinely require financial assistance. Typically, qualifying applicants make less than three times the poverty limits set by their region. Therefore, I encourage you to apply, as the potential benefits far outweigh any reservations you may have.
Additionally, program administrators expect you to contribute to the efficiency of the process. Instead of dedicating valuable time to educating you on the patent system’s basics, they request that you complete a 39-minute training course. This enables the volunteer attorney to focus on the more intricate aspects of your patent application, accelerating the overall process.
The Self-Help Path
In addition to the Patent Pro Bono Program, the United States Patent and Trademark Office provides alternative resources for inventors who prefer a more independent approach.
Pro Se Assistance Program
The Pro Se Assistance Program offered by the USPTO is designed to guide inventors through the intricacies of patent law. Through informative videos and one-on-one assistance, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of the statutes, rules, and procedures involved in obtaining a patent. To schedule an appointment, simply call 1-866-767-3848 or email [email protected].
Law School Clinic Certification Program
Law schools across all 50 states participate in the Law School Clinic Certification Program. Distinguished institutions such as Syracuse, UCI, UCLA, and Notre Dame, to name a few, collaborate with inventors by providing them with invaluable legal advice and guidance. This program allows law students to gain practical experience under the supervision of seasoned attorneys, offering you the opportunity to receive free legal support.
Remember, the road to patent ownership is within your reach. With the support of programs like the Patent Pro Bono Program, the USPTO’s Pro Se Assistance Program, and the Law School Clinic Certification Program, you can navigate the intricacies of the patent system while safeguarding your idea.
So, don’t let financial limitations deter you from pursuing your dreams. Embrace the resources available to you, and let the world witness your innovative creations!
This article was created exclusively for Garrity Traina.