Pro Bono Help For Inventors from the US Patent & Trademark Office

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America Invents Act (AIA) encourages the United States Patent and Trademark Office (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”.

Nationwide Pro Bono Program Information


Currently, at least part or all of 20 states have pro bono programs offering assistance, with more slated to begin operation in 2014 and 2015. The current pro bono programs are limited to residents of:

Alaska    Arizona    California    Colorado    Delaware    District of Columbia
Hawaii    Idaho    Louisiana    Maryland    Massachusetts    Minnesota    Nevada  New York Ohio    Oregon    Pennsylvania    Texas    Virginia    Washington    Wyoming

If your state is listed above, Pro-bono assistance is available, to be considered and apply to go to the Federal Circuit Bar Association National Clearing House

If your state is not listed above please do not apply for assistance at this time.  The additional States will be added to this list and the state resource map during 2014.  By the end of 2015, it is anticipated that all 50 states will have a pro bono program to assist inventors and small businesses.

An online portal serves as a clearinghouse and is operated by the Federal Circuit Bar Association. The clearinghouse portal will require you to provide contact information and answer a few questions to determine eligibility for the program. It also will require you to provide basic information about your invention, including a brief description, to help in the referral process. Should your application pass the first level of screening at the national clearinghouse, it will be forwarded to the appropriate regional program. All following correspondence will come from the regional program.

Acceptance into a regional pro bono program requires each potential pro bono client to be screened for certain criteria. Some of these criteria are listed below:

  1. Gross household income – region dependent, but most limited to 300% of the poverty levels
    Example 1 –  a single person could have an income of up to $34,470 (3 times the current single person poverty level of $11,490);
    Example 2 – a family of 4 could have a gross income of up to $70,650 (3 times the current family of 4 poverty level of $23,550).
  2. Knowledge of the patent system – demonstrated by having an application on file with the USPTO or by successfully completing the certificate training course. Many regional pro bono programs require successful completion of the certificate training to be considered for the program.
  3. Having an invention, not merely an idea – to demonstrate that there is an invention one should be able to describe the invention so that someone could make and use the invention.

The USPTO does not conduct or sponsor a collection of your information through the portal. Any information you provide goes directly to the national clearinghouse and will not be sent to the USPTO.

Additional questions may be directed to the USPTO mailbox probono@USPTO.GOV

Pro Se

This page is designed for those inventors that are either filing on their own behalf (pro se) or are seeking free or greatly reduced services from patent professionals. This page is meant to be actively dynamic so that as rules change or practices before the United States Patent and Trademark Office change the page will be updated with current information. The pro se portion of the page will eventually contain training on the patent process, training on search techniques, sample provisional applications, and direct links to forms and fees needed for filing a patent application. The pro bono portion of the page will eventually contain vital information about the pro bono program as it increases in size to eventually cover the entire United States. Initially, the page will include a training package with a certification certificate for successfully completing the training. This certification is one of many requirements to be considered for pro bono assistance. There will also be a link to a national screening program for admittance into any regional pro bono program. This process will be further explained on the pro bono page.

For help with your invention, you can schedule a call with Brian Fried, Invention Expert, Consultant and Chief Invention Officer of Inventor Smart visit and Check out the National Inventor Club where you can be a part of an inventor community, including entrepreneurs and service providers for inventors.
If you’d like to promote your invention and looking for some media coverage, schedule your interview on Got Invention Show. If you have a finished product now available or a prototype, show off your invention and tell us your journey!
Looking to learn more on inventing, take an online e-learning course, Learn How to Make Money with Your Invention, or individual classes on the topic you need at
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