Getting help searching, writing, filing, and prosecuting a patent application for your invention without cost is possible. There are free patent services available. First, there are some of the best patent agents and patent attorneys available working pro bono who may be able to help. And, second, there are some outstanding educational and contact resources available if you are searching, writing, filing, and prosecuting a patent application for your invention yourself. Additionally, some states have programs to help as well. For example, the California Inventors Assistance Program.

There are two kinds of free services available that offer patenting help to seek patent protection for your invention. There are Pro Bono (work done by licensed patent practitioners for free), and Pro Se (help to represent your own patent application) intellectual property assistance programs available through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). 

Patent Services Definition: Pro Bono – denoting work undertaken without charge, especially legal work for a client with a low income. These are services sometimes available from licensed patent practitioners to help you search, write, file, and prosecute a patent application for your invention. There are usually eligibility requirements. Check out our patent dos and don’ts.

Patent Services Definition: Pro Se – representing oneself, for oneself, self represented, or on behalf of themselves. Pro Se is also known as “pro per” and “propria persona.” The Do It Yourself patent applicant is representing themselves. Thus, DIY patent applicants are Pro Se. Eligibility requirements for free services usually require that the applicant be representing themselves.

Patent Attorney help with our 5 Steps to Patent
Patent Attorney help with Patent Applications

Pro Bono Patent Attorney Services – Free Patent Services

The first kind of no cost patent services available is the USPTO’s Patent Pro Bono Program. This kind of help is provided by licensed patent practitioners (patent agent and patent attorney) who are volunteering their time and talent. Pro Bono means work undertaken without charge, especially legal work for a client with a low income. 

The USPTO has three requirements for admission into their program. The three requirements are 1. income, 2. knowledge, and 3. invention requirement. Importantly, the actual servicing agencies may have other or additional requirements for admission into the program with their respective agency. 

  • To meet the first requirement, the inventor/applicant’s income should be less than three times the federal poverty guideline amount.  
  • To meet the second requirement, the inventor/applicant must either have a provisional application already on file, or successfully complete the USPTO Basic Patent Training Certification Course.  
  • To meet the third requirement, the inventor/applicant must be able to describe the particular features of the invention and how it works. 

There is more information and links to the available Pro Bono programs throughout the United States on the USPTO’s website. The USPTO actively maintains the content on their website, and offers several help desk lines to call for assistance.

Pro Se Patent Help

The second kind of no cost patent services available is the USPTO’s Pro Se Assistance Program. This kind of free help is a collection of training and resources available online to help inventor/applicants submit and prosecute their own patent applications. 

Pro Se (also “pro per” and “propria persona”) means for oneself, self represented, or on behalf of themselves. So don’t expect anyone to do the work for you, but there are educational materials available to help you to get a complete and proper application filed, and to respond to the examiner during the patent process

The USPTO has three kinds of services available for Pro Se inventor/applicants. One, training on the patent process. Two, educational materials for patent filing actions and activities that happen prior to filing, during examination, after final rejection, and after allowance or abandonment. And, three, the Pro Se Assistance Program has email, phone, and appointment scheduling options for inventor/applicants filing and prosecuting their own patent applications. Refer to the USPTO web page about filing a patent application on your own.  Check out our article on using Google to search for patents.

Carson Patents offers Pro Se patent help and free patent consultations to help inventor/applicants seeking to represent themselves. We help inventors with completing all of our five steps to patenting. There is an article on how to do a patent search, using chatbots for patent searching, and details about what patentability means. 

What about non-patent free legal services? Importantly, if you are not looking for patent services but are looking for free legal services, both Pro Bono and Pro Se services are also available from regular lawyers. In the United States, each state and / or its law bar association has information available to direct you to free legal services in that state. Most of the states and / or its bar associations have this information available online.

  • Example 1: Free legal services in California. The State Bar of California has a free legal help webpage. There are links to research low cost legal aid, locate free legal aid groups, and to visit the California Courts Self-Help Center. These links are for all legal topics other than seeking a patent for an invention.  
  • Example 2: Free legal services in Iowa. For Pro Bono free legal services help, the Iowa State Bar Association has a legal assistance webpage to locate legal aid services. For Pro Se free legal services help, the Iowa Judicial Branch has a representing yourself overview webpage to locate services to help you represent yourself. 

Important Note: Lawyers and attorneys that are not licensed by the USPTO as patent practitioners are not qualified to represent your inventions before the patent office. Be sure you ask about the license to patent, and check the registration at the USPTO.

Free Patent Help Available and We Help Pro Se Inventors Too

Please use the free patent services links available above for free provisional patent services. For paid patent services Carson Patents offers online (remote) pro se patent help, starting at – $800. We offer fixed fee and hourly arrangements to pro se inventors for patenting help.

Patent Confidentiality. Invention disclosures to patent practitioners are covered by client controlled privilege.

Important Tip: When looking for expert patenting services help only a patent attorney or patent agent can prosecute patents for you.

Schedule a Free Patent Consultation with Patent Attorney Greg Carson

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