Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Legal Help to Apply for a Patent

Inventors in the Houston area presently have two options to apply for pro bono (free) legal help when getting a patent. 
  1. South Texas College of Law Houston participates in the Pro Bono Assistance Law School Clinic Program. Under the supervision of a patent attorney, law school students work with inventors to file their patent. Inventors get free legal help, but must still pay patent filing fees. Income guidelines to qualify for this program are more liberal than for the TALA program mentioned next.
  2. Pro Bono through the Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts (TALA) linked from the USPTO's Pro Bono page. (Check the Pro Bono page if the volunteer organization changes.) This program is for residents of Texas and Louisiana who have a total combined household income of less than 300% of the federal poverty guidelines and are "currently under no obligation to assign the rights to the invention." Before being accepted into the program, inventors are required to become a member of TALA for a small yearly fee of $75 and:
    •  complete the USPTO online course “Basic Patent Training for Independent Inventors and Small Businesses” and print out the certificate of completion;
    • perform a prior art search: and
    • have filed a provisional application with the USPTO with at least six months remaining until the nonprovisional is due.
    Inventors accepted get free legal help, but must pay the patent filing fees. See more information at the TALA website.