Program Eligibility

To qualify for USPTO pro bono patent programs, the following requirements must be met:

1. You must be located in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, or Oklahoma.

2. One must earn no more than 300% of federal poverty levels (although this is only a general guideline, as requirements are region specific).

2017 Poverty Guidelines

Number in Household Poverty Level 300% Poverty
1 $12,060 $36,180
2 $16,240 $48,720
3 $20,420 $61,260
4 $24,600 $73,800
5 $28,780 $86,340
6 $32,960 $98,880
7 $37,140 $111,420
8 $41,320 $123,960

For more than 8, add $4,180/person to determine poverty (or $12,480 for 300% poverty), but no single inventor may have a total household income of more than $150,000. Please see https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines for more information.

Solo Inventors who …

  • have a total household income of less than 300% of the poverty rate; and
  • are not currently under an obligation to assign the rights to the invention

Non-profits that …

  • have 4 or fewer inventors who are under an obligation to assign the rights to the organization;
  • have 501(c)(3) status;
  • have budgets of less than $1 million per year;
  • are not research institutions or institutions of higher learning; and
  • are not currently under any obligation to assign the rights to the invention to another entity

Small businesses that …

  • have 4 or fewer inventors who are under an obligation to assign the rights to the organization, where all inventors have current household incomes of less than 300% of the poverty level;
  • had a total gross income of less than $150,000 in the preceding calendar year, and expect a total gross income of less than $150,000 in the current calendar year;
  • are not currently under any obligation to assign the rights to the invention to another entity

3. There is no asset restriction, although many programs have established some sort of liquid asset threshold to avoid assisting entrepreneurs who can afford to pay an attorney to draft a patent application.

4. Provisional Patent Standing If your provisional patent expiration date is within 5 months of the day you apply for our services you are not eligible for our patent pro bono program. We cannot guarantee placement with a patent pro bono attorney before your expiration date.

5. An applicant must also demonstrate: (A) knowledge of the patent system and (B) have an actual invention (not just an idea).

A. Knowledge of the patent system. This may, depending on the region, be demonstrated by either
(i) having a provisional or nonprovisional patent on file with the USPTO OR
(ii) completion of an online certificate training course.

B. Actual invention.
To demonstrate an invention, an inventor should be able to describe the invention so that someone else could actually make and use the invention.

Disqualification

Pursuant to 37 CFR § 1.29, we will not accept any application where one of the listed inventors has been named on more than 4 previous U.S. Patents or Pending Applications. There is a limited exception for former employees who have assigned all rights to the patent to a former employer.

 

Do you meet all of the above requirements? Follow this link on how to get started with the program