Thank you for your interest in volunteering for the Florida Patent Pro Bono Program. We appreciate your dedication to the intellectual property law field and look forward to your involvement.
The Florida Patent Pro Bono Program accelerates the commercialization of important new products, bolsters the local economy, and fulfills Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of U.S. Constitution in its express objective to promote the progress of science by securing inventors the exclusive right to their discoveries. Specifically, this program is designed to assist qualified low-income inventors and small businesses with the patent process in accordance with the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA). The AIA encourages the USPTO to “work with and support intellectual property law associations across the country in the establishment of pro bono programs designed to assist financially under-resourced independent inventors and small businesses.” This program is also a direct outcome of President Obama’s seven Executive Actions for the USPTO to assist innovators by expanding the pro bono programs in states.
- VOLUNTEER GUIDELINES: See below to learn more about volunteeering.
- VOLUNTEER FORM: Click HERE to complete the volunteer form.
SCOPE OF VOLUNTEER SERVICES
The scope of services provided under the Florida Patent Pro Bono Program is designed to be flexible, accommodating the needs of both the Volunteer Patent Agent/Attorney (“VPA”) and the inventor. In general, services are focused on the initial preparation, filing, and prosecution of a patent application before the USPTO. While the Program is designed to be accommodating, VPAs are expected to commit services for the “next step” of patent prosecution for the client. Specifically, by registering as a VPA, the professional agrees to the following:
- Consultation: All VPAs agree to consult with the matched inventor regarding his/her invention regardless of whether or not the inventor has a pending application with the USPTO.
- Inventor has yet to file anything with the USPTO: If the invention is not currently associated with a pending provisional or non-provisional patent application, Representation shall generally include review of the invention, and filing of a U.S. provisional or non-provisional application. Representation may also include a Response to the First Office Action on the Merits if the inventor demonstrates continued development of the invention and associated business.
- Inventor has a pending provisional patent application: If the invention is currently associated with a pending provisional patent application, Representation shall generally include filing of a U.S. non-provisional application claiming priority to the provisional application; or converting the provisional application to a U.S. non-provisional application. Representation may also include a Response to the First Office Action on the Merits if the inventor demonstrates continued development of the invention and associated business.
Representation beyond the scope as defined by the Program will be agreed upon by the individual VPA and the client.
VPAs will be matched with inventors or small businesses based on the field of the invention and the preferred technical fields of expertise of a VPA. All matches are subject to:
- Satisfaction of conflict checks; and
- Execution of an engagement letter.
- Commitment by the VPA to monitor and docket all deadlines.
For your convenience the Florida Patent Pro Bono Program has a template engagement letter that you may use in its entirety if you so choose. The engagement letter between the VPA and the client will generally define the scope of the representation. This engagement letter must be signed by both the VPA and the client inventor and provided to the Florida Patent Pro Bono Program administrator for recordation.
PRO BONO INFORMATION
Although the Florida Bar does not mandate pro bono work for membership, the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct state that “[e]ach member of the bar should strive to individually satisfy the member’s professional responsibility to provide pro bono legal service to the poor.” Rule 4-6.1.
The Florida Patent Pro Bono Program administrator is not responsible for the reporting of individual pro bono services to the Florida Bar. In accordance with Rule 4-6.1, each member of the bar is responsible for the reporting of his or her pro bono services to the bar, and shall annually report whether the member has satisfied the member's professional responsibility to provide pro bono legal services to the poor.
In order to enroll as a VPA and be matched with inventors and small businesses, please complete the VPA form below.
Click HERE to complete the VPA form.
*Please note that the Florida Patent Pro Bono Program does not provide malpractice insurance for volunteer patent agents or attorneys.