Free Patent Filing Assistance in Chicago

To qualify for Free Patent Filing Assistance in Chicago, you must first have a patentable invention. There are several eligibility requirements for the Program, including a minimum income requirement. Before you speak with a patent attorney, some applicants choose to file a provisional patent application to protect their idea. However, you must remember that your patent attorney is bound to keep your idea confidential. Chicago residents have access to a host of unique resources and assistance in their state.

Cost of filing a patent application

The cost of filing a patent application varies depending on whether the applicant is a small or large business. Small and micro-entities have certain filing requirements, such as having filed at least four utility patent applications and not assigning an interest in the invention to a non-small business. Patent practitioners also have a client controlled privilege, which means that invention disclosures made to them will be protected from disclosure to third parties.

The cost of filing a patent application depends on several factors, including the country where the applicant resides, the technology being patented, and the type of patent being applied for. The cost of filing a patent application can also be reduced by conducting a professional patent search.

Filing a patent application can be expensive, as the fees can add up quickly and also varies widely depending on the complexity of the invention. These fees also include post-filing fees. A good rule of thumb for these costs is that you should budget for prosecution and issue fees. If you’re filing multiple patent applications, you’ll want to factor in the costs associated with post-filing. An experienced patent attorney can help you select the right type of patent application, conduct a thorough search, and submit appropriate documents.

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Law school clinics

To obtain free patent filing assistance, students can take advantage of the Innovation Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School. The clinic offers patent law and product design guidance to students and entrepreneurs in the Chicago area.

PIPER is an online system that allows students to upload their application materials, search for available companies, and submit inquiries. Because the clinic provides these services free of charge, students may be able to save time and money by not having to pay an attorney’s fee. Students in Chicago can apply for the program by filling out an online form.  Students can also contact their law school’s Patent Program Liaison with any questions regarding the application process.

The IP Patent Clinic provides student interns with experience advising clients on real-world patent issues. They provide degree candidates practical, fully hands-on experience with real inventors, real inventions, and real patent prosecution in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). When the cost of patent work is a barrier keeping an inventor from going forward with a useful invention, they can do the patent work for free.

The Patent Pro Bono Program matches qualified patent professionals with under-resourced inventors and small businesses. Eligible applicants must have a gross household income that is three times lower than the federal poverty level. Some regional programs may have different criteria for eligibility. The eligibility criteria varies by location and type of invention.

Illinois inventors and entrepreneurs can obtain free legal help for both patent and trademark matters by contacting the following:

  1. Northwestern Pritzker School of Law (trademarks, with preference to Chicago)
  2. Saint Louis University School of Law (trademarks)
  3. UIC Law School (patents, with preference to Illinois)
  4. Washington University in St. Louis School of Law (patents)

Pro-bono program

Pro-bono programs are offered by patent attorneys for low-income inventors who are seeking patent protection for their inventions. The USPTO is a key partner in these efforts and has worked to expand the program across the country. Patent attorneys who offer their services on a pro bono basis are often well-versed in the technical issues surrounding patents.

One such program is the Chicago-Kent Patent Hub. The USPTO and other legal professionals support this initiative and provide volunteer attorneys to help low-income inventors.

The Chicago-Kent College of Law is home to one of 21 patent hubs in the United States. The purpose of these patent hubs is to help low-income inventors obtain protection for their ideas. The hub currently includes 78 attorneys from 21 law firms.

The attorneys have provided more than 5,400 hours of pro bono legal assistance to inventors. It also provides free legal services to students in Chicago and surrounding communities.

The Chicago-Kent Patent Hub is a program run by the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law that pairs low-income inventors with volunteer patent attorneys. In addition to the USPTO’s Patent Pro Bono Program, this program has regional administrators in every state.

Regional program administrators match qualified inventors with patent attorneys who live in their area. The attorneys matched with inventors are licensed to practice law before the USPTO. Once the initial application is submitted, the IP attorney will then review the application to see if the applicant meets the requirements.

The IP attorney will discuss the patent application with the inventor. Usually, this step takes at least six months. It is possible to submit multiple applications for a patent. The IP attorney will check the application to make sure that it meets the requirements of each patent. The attorney will evaluate the application and provide legal advice.

Eligibility Guidelines

An inventor must be based in Illinois to qualify for the Chicago-Kent Patent hub’s services. The inventor also needs to have a household income of 300 percent or less of the federal poverty guidelines that are issued each year by Department of Health and Human Services. The income limit for U.S. military vets is 500 percent.

The inventor must also demonstrate an understanding of how patents work once they are received. You can do this by showing a USPTO-issued receipt for a provisional, or non-provisional, patent application. Or you can successfully complete a USPTO training course found on the pro-se/pro-bono page of USPTO website. From that training module, you can obtain a certificate of completion.

Inventions must be described by the inventor. This includes not only having an idea for an invention, but also being able explain how another person could create the invention. Inventions involving multiple inventors must meet the above requirements. If an attorney match is requested, an administration fee must also be paid.

Before the patent attorney can begin working with an applicant, the applicant must first file a provisional patent application. If approved, the patent attorney must keep the client’s idea confidential.

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Small Businesses

In addition to the above requirements, if the applicant is a small business, it must:

  1. have four or fewer inventors, where each inventor has total household income of less than 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines,
  2. have had a total gross income of less than $150,000 in the preceding calendar year and
  3. expect a total gross income of less than $150,000 in the current calendar year.

Payment of USPTO Fees

Accepted applicants will receive pro bono patent services from licensed patent agents or attorneys, but will be responsible for all United States Patent and Trademark Office filing, searching, examination and issuance fees. A full fee schedule and micro-entity status eligibility can be found on the USPTO website. Applicants will also be responsible for all maintenance fees if the patent issues.

Applicants will be responsible for any fees for drafting formal drawings if needed for their patent application, subject to Applicant approval. Formal drawings are required for Design Patent Applications.

The Chicago-Kent Patent Hub doesn’t provide legal advice. Its services are limited to screening potential applicants for eligibility and referring them to volunteer attorneys for evaluation.

Patent and Trademark Resource Centers (PTRC)

Patenting an invention and trademarking a product name can be challenging. Patent and Trademark Resource Centers library staff are information experts trained on how to use search tools to access patent and trademark information.

They provide the human touch that no webpage or legal book can provide in helping inventors and small businesses find the information they need to protect their intellectual property. However, PTRC representatives are not attorneys and cannot provide legal advice. Chicago is served by Chicago Public Library.

PTRC library representatives can:

  1. Provide access to resources such as Patent Public Search and TESS, Trademark Electronic Search System
  2. Direct you to information and explain the application process and fee schedule
  3. Demonstrate how to use search tools to conduct a patent or trademark search
  4. Show you a directory of local patent attorneys who are licensed to practice before the USPTO
  5. Offer classes on intellectual property (varies by location)
  6. Offer assistance on how to do historical research on patents and trademarks
  7. Show you how to track current research by company or nonprofit
  8. Help you find assignee information and much more.

Chicago Inventors Organization

The Chicago Inventors Organization (CIO) is a nonprofit that supports and advocates for the growth of low-income inventors and businesses. Their goal is to help innovators develop a business that will create jobs and sustain local communities. The CIO offers a variety of resources to assist inventors, from educational seminars to credible resources.

In 2015, they conducted 27 educational seminars, held one annual conference, and provided over 426 consulting sessions with its members. They also provided entrepreneurship training to over 70 entrepreneurs and held two Investor Pitch Workshops.

The Chicago Inventors Organization is the only organization of its kind in the Chicago land area that offers free, positive, and credible resources to innovators. The organization is also recognized by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which is a big reason to join.

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It’s also a great resource for patent lawyers, paralegals, and patent agents in the area. This association is at the forefront of the innovation process in Chicago, and its members can stay current by networking with peers and industry professionals.They organize CIO Inventors Academy seminars, weekly CIO member networking events and pro bono patent program programs to help keep inventors on track.

They also host CIO Inventors Academy seminars with industry experts as well as their CIO volunteer prototyping group. The CIO is the only such organization in Chicago that provides access to untapped talent. This is crucial for creating jobs and increasing state revenue.

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