Where to Find Free Patent Services
Getting help searching, writing, filing, and prosecuting a patent application for your invention without cost, or for free, is possible. 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.
There are two kinds of free patent services available that offer free 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).
Free Patent Services Definition: Pro Bono – denoting work undertaken without charge, especially legal work for a client with a low income. These are free services available from licensed patent practitioners to help you search, write, file, and prosecute a patent application for your invention. There are usually eligibility requirements.
Free 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.”
Pro Bono Patent Attorney Services
The first kind of free patent services available is the USPTO’s Patent Pro Bono Program. This kind of free help is done 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 the Patent Pro Bono 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. Read more about the federal poverty level guidelines.
- 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.
Pro Se Patent Help
The second kind of free 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 free 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.
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, and details about what patentability means.
Free Legal Services
Additionally, if you are not looking for free patent services but are looking for free legal services, both Pro Bono and Pro Se services are also available. In the United States, each state and/or its law bar association has information available to direct you to free legal services.
- 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.
Free Patent Help Available Online
Free Patent Services Links available above. For paid patent services we offer online pro se patent help, starting at – $800.