Inventors may now apply for TALA’s Patent Pro Bono program through the US Patent and Trademark Office National Clearinghouse for patent pro bono assistance. Inventors may be eligible for assistance filing a patent with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in a program designed for financially under-resourced independent inventors in Texas and Louisiana.
With the goal of advancing invention based economic development, the program matches patent attorneys and agents with inventors to assist in filing for patents with the USPTO.
The Patent Pro Bono program provides services to individual inventors who meet financial qualifications, have done a prior art search, filed a provisional application, and completed a training package developed by the USPTO.
TALA’s Patent Pro Bono program currently serves solo inventors who
- are Texas or Louisiana residents;
- have a total combined household income of less than 300% of the federal poverty guidelines; and
- are currently under no obligation to assign the rights to the invention.
After becoming a member of TALA for a small yearly fee of $75, there is no charge for the service and advice of the patent attorney or agent. However, there are filing related fees payable to the USPTO that the client must cover. These fees usually range from $45-$280.
Before being accepted for the TALA Patent Pro Bono program, participants are required
- to complete the USPTO online course “Basic Patent Training for Independent Inventors and Small Businesses” and print out the certificate of completion;
- to perform a prior art search: and
- to have filed a provisional application with the USPTO with at least six months remaining until the nonprovisional is due.
Ready to apply for the Patent Pro Bono program? All patent applicants must complete the form on the Federal Circuit Bar Pro Bono National Clearinghouse web page. Your request will then be forwarded to TALA if you reside in Texas or Louisiana and are preliminarily determined a candidate for the Patent Pro Bono program. Please understand that this is a process and may take up to 30 days. TALA receives periodic updates from Washington D.C. indicating inventors who have completed the pre-screening process. Unfortunately, TALA does not have a way to track the status of a given submission.
Once TALA has received your information from the Federal Circuit Bar National Clearinghouse, you will be contacted for more information to determine your eligibility for TALA’s Patent Pro Bono program. Acceptance into the program and placement with a patent attorney or agent is within the sole discretion of TALA’s Patent Pro Bono administrator.
Basic Patent Training for Independent Inventors and Small Businesses USPTO Online Course
About Prior Art
A person shall be entitled to a patent unless—
- (1) the claimed invention was patented, described in a printed publication, or in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public before the effective filing date of the claimed invention. AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)
Why are Prior Art references important?
Under the Patent Law, “[o]n taking up an application for examination . . . the examiner shall make a thorough study thereof and shall make a thorough investigation of the available prior art relating to the subject matter of the claimed invention.” Essentially, if your invention is disclosed anywhere in the prior art, it is not patentable.
How do I search for Prior Art?
A great place to start is to look through existing patents. You may do so on the USPTO’s website, the European Patent Office’s website, any one of several paid subscription services, or by using Google Patents. A well-done search should reveal similar inventions, including those inventions upon which your own invention likely relies. More importantly, the prior art search should help educate you, as the inventor, as to the current state of your particular field.