What is Georgia PATENTS?

Georgia PATENTS stands for Pro bono Assistance & Training for Entrepreneurs and New, Talented, Solo inventors.  The program seeks to help solo inventors, non-profits, and small businesses find patent agents and attorneys to help file patents on a pro bono basis.

Why does Georgia PATENTS exist?

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 undoubtably favors large corporations and experienced inventors.  To help offset any harm to solo inventors and small businesses, Congress directed the United States Patent & Trademark Office to help establish pro bono patent programs across the country.  Here in Georgia, Georgia Lawyers for the Arts decided to work with the USPTO to reach Georgia inventors.

Why Georgia Lawyers for the Arts?

For 40 years, GLA has been working to provide free legal assistance to artists and arts organizations throughout Georgia who would otherwise be unable to afford the help they need.  As an organization already attune to the needs of those seeking to protect intellectual property, GLA saw the USPTO’s Inventor Assistance Program as a logical extension of our mission.  We now seek to help all those who practice what the Constitution referred to as “the useful arts and sciences.”

Who qualifies for the program?

This program is open to Georgia solo inventors, inventors working for a Georgia non-profit (except educational institutions or research facilities), and some Georgia-based small businesses.  Specific qualifications are listed on the inventor information page.  Placement with a Patent Agent/Attorney will be at the sole discretion of the program administrator.

Do I qualify financially?

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. For convenience, we have a chart available at the bottom of the inventor page.

Can groups of inventors qualify?

Sometimes. If you have 4 or fewer inventors, and each inventor would qualify as a solo inventor, we can qualify the group as a “small business.” Under most circumstances, we would want to see that the group had already assigned rights to the invention to the group. However, we will evaluate this on a case by case basis.

What type of training is required?

Applicants who have never filed a patent will be directed to participate in a “Patent 101″ training program.  From time to time, GLA offers a qualifying training class. Alternatively, there is an online USPTO training module available online. Applicants who use the online training are asked to print out or screen capture the completion certificate available at the end of the online training, and bring a copy to the intake meeting.

Is the program accepting applicants?

Yes.  Georgia PATENTS met a Presidential mandate to begin accepting applicants before the end of 2014 and began placing cases at the beginning of 2015. We have outlined the steps required to apply.

What do i have to do?

Applicants must:

  1. Participate in Patent training*
  2. Conduct a prior art search
  3. Apply through our website (if you applied through the National Clearinghouse, we will ask you to re-apply)
  4. Conduct an in-office or telephonic intake with GLA’s Patent Administrator to demonstrate qualification for the program
  5. If approved for the program, pay the appropriate administrative fee.
  6. Wait for a match with a volunteer Patent Agent/Attorney
  7. Work with your volunteer Agent/Attorney through the patent prosecution process, including payment of appropriate USPTO fees.

Specific information is available on each of these steps. *See below for information about training.

What’s the fee, and why?

GLA is a very small non-profit. We can only continue our mission by charging small administrative fees for attorney/agent referrals. These fees help offset the costs of keeping our office open, paying for the technology for our case management system, and maintaining our website. Our patent referral fees are currently:

  • $50 for solo inventors
  • $100 for inventors with an obligation to assign to a non-profit
  • $150 “small businesses”

Remember that inventors remain responsible for paying the applicable patent filing fees, and possibly other necessary costs associated with filing.

What’s the timeline for this program?

We will usually contact you a week or so after receiving your application, though we do have periods during which you should expect significant delays (usually around law school holidays and exams).

Depending on the state of your application, we may put your case on hold (either pre or post intake meeting) to give you time to further reduce to practice, supplement a prior art search, or provide other relevant documents or information.

Post intake, we make every effort to place cases within a month, though 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 60 days or less from the date of intake.

I can’t find the form!

Go to “Steps to apply” and read the instructions carefully. The link to the form is located in step 4.

Is the program accepting volunteer Patent Attorneys/Agents yet?

Absolutely! Interested attorneys and patent agents may begin signing up via GLA’s attorney membership page.

Can my firm still be a sponsor?

Absolutely!  Contact us at patents@gapatents.org to talk about it!

My question wasn’t answered!

You can email us at patents@gapatents.org if you have additional questions, though we strongly encourage you to read through all of the information on our website, as your question may be answered somewhere else.