Patent Pro Bono Program
The University of Idaho College of Law administers the Idaho Patent Pro Bono Program, which facilitates the placement of qualified Idaho inventors seeking advice about the patent process with volunteer attorneys who are qualified to practice before the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
The national Patent Pro Bono Program was authorized under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA), which 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."
There are four basic requirements that a successful inventor applicant must meet, in addition to other program requirements detailed on the Inventor Information page:
Be an Idaho individual or small business – as defined in the guidelines section of the Inventor Information page.
Have a qualifying household income – which cannot exceed 300% of federal poverty level for an individual as published annually by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Demonstrate knowledge of the patent system – evidenced by successful completion of the online Certificate Training Course.
Demonstrate proof of invention – not just an idea. To demonstrate an invention, you should be able to describe the invention so that someone else could actually make and use it. CAUTION: Do not publicly disclose your invention prior to filing a patent application or at least a provisional application for a patent. A public disclosure could make it prior art against itself, resulting in an inability to secure a patent.
You may find it useful to conduct a novelty or prior art search to help refine your idea and assist the volunteer attorney. See the USPTO’s Seven Step Strategy.
Placement with a volunteer attorney remains within the sole discretion of the program director. We will treat any information you provide as confidential.
- Inventors: Click here to learn more about the program and complete the application.
- Volunteer Attorneys: Click here to learn more about the program and complete the form to participate.
USPTO resources for inventors can be found here.
Training programs for both inventors and volunteer attorneys are currently being developed with various program partners, including the Intellectual Property Section of the Idaho State Bar, the Idaho Small Business Development Center, and others. Watch this space for training information.
For questions or concerns involving the application or volunteer process, please contact the Idaho Patent Pro Bono Program using the information below:
Timothy E. Murphy
Visiting Associate Professor of Law