Volunteer Attorney Information
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 licensed 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."
Volunteer Attorney Form
- Click here to complete the form to participate.
Scope of Volunteer Services
The services provided under the Idaho Patent Pro Bono Program are designed to be flexible—accommodating the needs of both the volunteer attorney and the inventor. In general, services are focused on the initial preparation, filing, and prosecution of a patent application before the USPTO.
Commitments Undertaken by Volunteer Attorneys
Volunteer attorneys are expected to commit to do the following:
- Draft and file one non-provisional U.S. patent application.*
- Prosecute the patent application at the USPTO until either (i) a response is filed to a final office action, or (ii) the application issues as a patent.*
- Monitor and docket all deadlines.
- Prepare a written engagement letter signed by both the attorney and the inventor.
- Provide a copy of the signed engagement letter to the Idaho Patent Pro Bono Program.
- Withdraw from a representation only if allowed to do so under applicable ethical rules.
* Some of the volunteer attorneys will perform novelty or prior art searches only. In those cases, we will attempt to also match accepted applicants with a volunteer attorney who will complete the services listed in paragraphs 1 and 2 above.
Additional Considerations for Volunteer Attorneys
- The volunteer attorney is not responsible for requests for continued examination, appeals, challenges to USPTO decisions in a court of law, prosecution after issue or response to final office action, foreign patent applications, international patent applications, or additional U.S. patent applications.
- The volunteer attorney's services may be expanded beyond the scope defined by the Program by mutual agreement between the inventor and the volunteer attorney, which should be in writing.
- Volunteer attorneys will be matched with inventors or small businesses based on the field of the invention and the preferred technical fields of expertise of the volunteer attorney. All matches are subject to satisfaction of conflict checks.
Idaho State Bar Pro Bono Information
The Idaho Supreme Court, the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho, and the Idaho State Bar created the Idaho Pro Bono Commission to increase pro bono participation by private and public sector attorneys through various initiatives, including the Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program (IVLP).
Volunteer Attorneys under the Idaho Patent Pro Bono Program are encouraged to complete IVLP’s Pro Bono Pledge form (in addition to the Voluntary Attorney Form linked above) to take advantage of the many IVLP benefits that currently include malpractice coverage and other benefits. Contact IVLP for more details.