The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recommends that every inventor retain a patent attorney or agent to file their application, but this is impractical for some inventors. In recognition of this problem, the USPTO has compiled several resources for inventors. I have outlined the most beneficial resources for inventors who want to know more about filing a patent. These resources include great information about the patent process, as well as assistance for inventors who want to file their own application.
Pro Se Assistance Program
The first of these resources is the Pro Se Assistance Program which offers assistance to those inventors who want to file their own applications through a program called Pro Se Assistance. This program provides resources to inventors and small businesses who prosecute applications without the assistance of an attorney. In person assistance is available, in addition to an application checklist and a handy guide on understanding the electronic filing system. Here is a short video explaining the program.
Patent pro bono program
The USPTO also established a pro bono program where small inventors may get free patent services from patent practitioners. California Lawyers for the Arts runs the California Inventors Assistance Program (CIAP), which covers California and several other states. CIAP provides free legal assistance to inventors, but note that any filing fees or costs must be paid by the inventor. Only the attorney’s fees are free.
This program can help the inventor get a patent where the main barrier is paying an attorney or agent to draft and file the application. Here is a video explaining the program and a link to the CIAP form.
General Information Concerning Patents
The USPTO has also assembled a list of general information on patents, including the statutory requirements and fees. This is a great resource for an inventor who does not know much about patent law, because it provides an easy to read overview. Here is a link to the information page.
The above-mentioned resources provide information to inventors who know little or nothing about filing a patent application. The USPTO recommends that every inventor retain a patent attorney or agent. Finding a patent attorney within budget is difficult for the average inventor. Therefore, the savvy inventor should use the above resources to make the process affordable.
If you would like more information about the cost of patenting your invention you can contact me here.