FAQ

With the assistance of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the America Invents Act, and in collaboration with firms and attorneys throughout Florida, Patent Pro Bono FL is the statewide program of the Arts & Business Council of Miami and Dade Legal Aid to provide under-resourced inventors, makers, innovators and nonprofits with pro bono patent attorneys.

In 2011, Congress passed comprehensive patent reform, known as the America Invents Act (“AIA”). The AIA changed the United States from a “first to invent” system to a “first inventor to file” system, a system that undoubtedly favors large corporations and experienced inventors. To help offset any harm to solo inventors and small businesses, Congress directed the USPTO to help establish pro bono patent programs across the country. In Florida, USPTO invited the Arts & Business Council of Miami to reach inventors in our state.

The program is open to solo inventors, small business/investor groups and nonprofits that are Florida residents. Applicants must meet financial requirements.

Solo inventors must reside in Florida, meet the financial requirements of having a household income 300% of federal poverty guidelines (see info on financial question) and are under no obligation to assign the rights of the invention.

Additionally, placement with a volunteer patent attorney remains within the sole discretion of the program administrators and is not guaranteed.

To qualify nonprofit organizations must have their 501cx3 designation from the IRS, be based in Florida, and have 4 or fewer inventors who are under obligation to assign the rights to the nonprofit organization. The nonprofit can’t be a research institution or a an institution of higher learning. The annual budget for the nonprofit can not exceed one million dollars. Additionally, placement with a volunteer patent attorney remains within the sole discretion of the program administrators and is not guaranteed.

To qualify Small Business/Inventor Groups must be based in Florida, have a total gross income of less than $150,000 in the preceding calendar year, have 4 or fewer inventors and are not under any obligation to assign the rights of the invention to another entity. Under most circumstances, all inventors should already be under an obligation to assign rights to the invention to the “business,” though we will consider the circumstances of each case, individually. Be advised you will be asked to provide us with the company’s 1040 to prove income eligibility.

ALL inventors in the group must meet the financial requirements of having a household income of 300% of poverty guidelines. (See info on financial question). Regarding the USPTO Training Program, please put the names of all inventors on the certificate. If not, you will all have to submit a USPTO Training Certificate for each inventor separately. Additionally, placement with a volunteer patent attorney remains within the sole discretion of the program administrators and is not guaranteed.

This program is intended for low income inventors and non-profits with small budgets. For individuals, we look at your total household income, and use a sliding scale for eligibility based upon the current years’ poverty guidelines. Solo inventors and Small Business/Investor Groups will need to attach your past years IRS 1040 IRS form to the application to show you meet the financial requirements. NonProfits will need to attach your past years IRS 990 Form.

Google what is 300% of the federal poverty level to see a full chart for this year.

Prior to applying for pro bono services, each inventor must participate in an approved patent training seminar provided by the United States Patent Office on line. Attach the final completion certificate to your application.

Link to online seminar HERE

Patent Pro Bono FL offers pro bono legal assistance in the form of a free attorney to help inventors prepare and file for their patents. Inventors remain responsible for paying a $50 administrative fee, all applicable fees owed to the United States Patent & Trademark Office during the prosecution process, and sometimes drafting fees (at cost) necessitated by complex inventions or designs. The USPTO fees are greatly reduced (up to 75% off the standard rate) for “micro-entities” such as those qualifying under this program. The applicant is responsible for paying the appropriate filing, search, examination, and issuance fees. Inventors should check the official USPTO publication of fees for a full list of at www.uspto.org

Patent Pro Bono FL offers pro bono legal assistance in the form of free attorney in helping inventors prepare and file for their patents. Inventors remain responsible for paying an administrative fee for attorney placement, all applicable fees owed to the United States Patent & Trademark Office during the prosecution process, and sometimes drafting fees (at cost) necessitated by complex inventions or designs. The USPTO fees are greatly reduced (up to 75% off the standard rate) for “micro-entities” such as those qualifying under this program. The applicant is responsible for paying the appropriate filing, search, examination, and issuance fees. Inventors should check the official USPTO publication of fees for a full list of at www.uspto.org

Before starting your application, please make sure you:

  • Have checked the financial section and that you qualify for pro bono legal assistance.
  • Have your latest IRS 1040 form as a pdf to attach to the application.
  • Have completed the USPTO training and have a certificate of completion as a pdf to attach to the application.
  • Once you complete an application form, our staff will review the form and contact you within a reasonable period of time to ask follow-up questions or get additional information as needed. Depending on the state of your application, we may put your case on hold to give you time to further reduce to practice, supplement a prior art search, or provide other relevant documents or information.

    Once accepted your case will be put in our system so we can match you with an attorney. While we make every effort to place cases within 2 months, placement depends on a wide variety of factors, and we cannot guarantee your case will be assigned that quickly. If we cannot find an attorney after 120 days, we will direct you to file pro se and close the case – though this is an extraordinarily rare situation. At this time, our program is unable to accept applicants who have an upcoming provisional or disclosure deadline 120 days or less from the date of intake. We can not guarantee that your case will be matched with an attorney.

    Yes! To be a pro bono attorney and accept cased for Patent Pro Bono FL click on the apply now button on the program page. To participate as a pro bono attorney for Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts click on the VLA tab under programs and then click on the apply now button for attorneys. Need more info call us at 305-326-1011.

    Yes! We count on donations and memberships from Florida law firms and attorneys to help us provide Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and Patent Pro Bono in Florida. Click on membership tab on top of the home page and then click on legal to see options and benefits of being a legal partner. All our partnerships are customizeable. The Arts & Business Council is a nonprofit 50-1c3 organization. Call us at 305-326-1011 to learn more.

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