In March, the USPTO launched the Pennsylvania Patent Pro Bono Program through the Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, a non-profit community based legal services provider for the arts and invention community.
The Patent Pro Bono Program provides free legal assistance to low income inventors. The Program is a product of the America Invents Act (AIA). Under this legislation the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office began working with intellectual property law associations across the country to assist qualifying independent inventors and small businesses. In February of 2014, President Obama issued an executive action calling for expansion of the pro bono programs into all 50 states. As a result of the President’s executive action, new pro bono programs have been springing up all over the country.
Generally, most programs require that an inventor have: (1) income below 300% of the Federal poverty level; (2) knowledge of the patent system; and (3) the ability to describe his or her invention so that someone could make and use the invention. The income threshold is based on how many people are in the inventor’s household. Right now, the Federal poverty level for a one person household is $11,670, so 300% would be $35,010. Because each regional program is operated independently, inventors are strongly encouraged to contact their program directly, review their program’s website, or check out the USPTO’s website to learn about the eligibility criteria. To learn more about USPTO, please visit their website.