Under the “America Invents Act,” the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) established a new pro bono program designed to assist financially under-resourced, independent inventors and small businesses. The program strives to match inventors with volunteer attorneys who donate their services to help file patent applications.
To learn more about the program, apply for services, or register as a volunteer attorney, follow the links below.
Information for Inventors
If you are an Ohio resident with a promising invention who wants to apply for legal assistance through this program, please take the following steps:
STEP ONE: Learn about the program by visiting the USPTO and Patent Pro Bono Program websites.
STEP TWO: Take the “Basic Patent Training for Independent Inventors and Small Businesses” course, a 39 minute informational video/certification program hosted by the USPTO. All applicants are required to complete this training before they receive program assistance. You must print out the certificate of completion and keep it for your records. We will ask for it in the application process.
STEP THREE: Fill out and submit an Application.
Information for Volunteer Attorneys
The Ohio Patent Pro Bono Program is looking for licensed patent attorneys in Ohio who are interested in donating their services to help under-resourced inventors file patent applications with the USPTO.
If you are willing to consider pro bono referrals from the program, please register as a volunteer attorney.
All referrals will be well vetted to ensure a reasonable level of client responsibility and potential patentability.
More information about the Patent Pro Bono Program can be found on the USPTO's website.
If you have any questions about the program, please contact us at (440) 745-4145 or [email protected].
Northeast Ohio is experiencing a gap in its economic continuum.
Our local economy is nationally recognized for its successes in driving early stage technology investment. A number of programs, including: JumpStart, BioEnterprise, MAGNET, TBEIC, the Innovation Fund, the North Coast Opportunities program, the Ohio Third Frontier and a very effective seed investment community work together to make this possible.
Yet, these programs mostly support serial entrepreneurs, small businesses and a handful of inventors with solid business fundamentals in place. The conundrum arises as inventors with otherwise fundable, great ideas do not have the basic resources to cultivate and protect their intellectual property. Without patent protection, these great ideas stand little chance of garnering financial backing.
Enter: The Pro Bono Network and its member firms.
Under-resourced, inventors and small businesses often need financial help with the patent process. The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) encouraged the USPTO to "work with and support intellectual property law associations across the country in the establishment of pro bono programs designed to assist financially under-resourced independent inventors and small businesses."
Ohio’s legal and economic development communities are actively working together with the US Patent and Trademark Office to build a network of pro bono support for inventors who could not afford to protect their intellectual property.
The network offers firms the opportunity to commit a block of time to their community. In addition to helping the local economy by providing pro bono services, participating firms have the potential to reap the benefits as patents are issued and new commercial potential grows across Ohio.
Pro Bono Potential
The Pro Bono Network provides opportunities to Ohio and to participating firms:
Economic Impact: Have a hand in improving the local economy.
Give Back: Fulfill your professional obligation to the community and the legal industry.
Save Time: The Pro Bono Network vets applicants and only forwards qualified candidates.
We’ll Help: We maintain the life of each case, freeing your time for other work.
Sweet Spot: Fulfills your volunteering obligation with projects in your wheelhouse.
The Pro Bono Network is asking firms to commit blocks of chargeable time to support this growing program.
Throughout the year, each of the collaborating entities (the Ohio Patent Pro Bono Program, USPTO and CIPLA) will publicly recognize participating firms for being active in the program. The Pro Bono Network will provide a web badge to tout your participation.
We Make it Easy
In order to make the process as streamlined as possible, the Ohio Patent Pro Bono Program, the Cleveland Intellectual Property Law Association and the USPTO have worked together to develop screening and communications systems to identify client readiness and attempt to ensure that volunteers are connected only with serious inventors.