Small businesses and independent inventors both serve a vital role in our nation’s economy. And, helping those with limited resources is an important goal of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
The USPTO’s Patent Pro Bono Program provides free legal assistance to financially under-resourced inventors and small businesses interested in securing patent protection for their inventions. Inventors then bring their inventions to market – helping to grow the economy and turn their dreams into reality.
In every patent, there’s a story. Take for example Travis Kelley, from Backus, MN. Travis invented a simple but effective device to take the guesswork out of home door installations. He couldn’t afford to hire an attorney and filed a provisional patent application on his own. After learning about USPTO’s pro bono program, he applied and received legal representation. His patent was issued in 2014.
Today, Travis and his wife Jennifer run a small business called JenTra Tools. Having sold thousands of units per year, JenTra is now moving into new markets to expand its customer base.
Then there is Deborah Campbell, from Grand Junction, CO, who developed a sushi-making machine – that can churn out sushi rolls in just two minutes – after years of designing and prototyping. She received pro bono assistance from the law firm of Merchant and Gould through Mi Casa Women’s Business Center in Denver. Find out more about her journey to sushi success in the recent article from Inventors Eye.
Glenn Vogel, a custom metal worker and father of three from Evergreen, CO, also received assistance from Mi Casa. In 2015, thanks to a volunteer attorney and the pro bono program, Glenn patented a customizable wine storage rack and saw his revenue increase by 20 percent.
Regional patent pro bono programs not only support local inventors but are also a way for patent practitioners to give back to their community. To date, more than 1,000 practitioners have volunteered their availability, time and resources. However, in order to assist even more independent inventors, entrepreneurs and small businesses, the USPTO welcomes even more practitioners to participate.
Visit the USPTO website to learn more about available resources for both inventors and entrepreneurs.