John J. Calvert of the United States Patent and Trademark Office and James H. Patterson, principal at Patterson Thuente Christensen Pedersen, P.A. in Minneapolis will discuss the formation, implementation and future plans for the America Invents Acts (AIA) pro bono program.
The AIA requires that the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) work with local intellectual property (IP) organizations across the country in establishing pro bono patent application services for inventors and small businesses. Since the passage of this bill, four pro bono programs have begun offering services. At least 13 additional programs are in the planning stages. As these programs expand, more inventors and small businesses who qualify will potentially be able to receive pro bono assistance from qualified patent attorneys in filing patent applications. The overarching goal is to make the patent system affordable to those who do not have the financial resources to hire an attorney and to also ensure that no meritorious invention goes lacking for protection due to financial burden.
It is the intention of the program that patents should be issued to individuals and small businesses that can make contributions to society and have the potential to create jobs. This goal will only be obtained through the involvement of organizations that assist in the creation or growth of new businesses. To this end, each pro bono program is run through a local or state IP law association and utilizes a non-profit organization as the administrative body.
The program discussion will center around the following:
• A brief history of the start of the pro bono pilot program
• An overview of the AIA pro bono program
• What qualifications are looked at for entry into the program
• The National Clearinghouse and how does it connect to the regional pro bono programs
• What regional programs are in the works
• How to find additional information
• What plans are in the work for future expansion
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