Seattle inventors and residents have access to a host of unique resources and assistance. The Silicon Valley Regional Office provides additional support and resources for customers in the West Coast region of the United States.

Silicon Valley USPTO (West Coast Regional Office) is located in San Jose City Hall’s Wing Building. Built in 2005, this landmark building is a reflection of the city’s status in the valley. It stands as a symbol for the region’s cultural roots, technological savvy, and heritage. The West Coast regional office serves California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Their mission is to stimulate innovation and promote economic growth by connecting entrepreneurs with government resources, supporting teachers and students through their STEM education programs, gathering feedback and recruiting diverse talent from across the region.

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The Silicon Valley USPTO services include:

  • Events: Free workshops, seminars, and training tailored to the needs of the community at all levels.
  • The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) conducts trials, including inter partes, post-grant, and covered business method patent reviews and derivation proceedings, hears appeals from adverse examiner decisions in patent applications and reexamination proceedings, and renders decisions in interferences.
  • Provides a speaker for your event.
  • Provides a platform for an interview with your patent examiner (select “Public Interview room,” then “Silicon Valley”).
  • Offer programs designed to support and foster STEM education with an emphasis on innovative learning. 

Pro Se Assistance Program

The patent process involves many laws and regulations, policies, procedures, and policies. Therefore, the USPTO recommends that you use a registered agent to help with your application. The USPTO recognizes that legal assistance can be expensive for many applicants, especially small business inventors. The Pro Se Assistance Program was created to assist small businesses and independent inventors in achieving their goal of protecting valuable intellectual properties.

The Pro Se Assistance Program is a program that provides education and outreach to applicants (also called “pro se” applicants). This program assists applicants who file patent applications on their own without the help of an agent or registered patent attorney. USPTO employees are not authorized to give legal advice, however the program provides increased support and resources to small businesses and independent inventors, and aims to improve the quality of pro-se applications. It also assists pro se applicants in making informed decisions about their patent applications.

Importance of learning about intellectual property protection.

Protecting intellectual property is essential to protect products and services against imitation, secure outside funding and promote commercial success for any company. The value of a patent depends on its preparation and prosecution. It is important to educate yourself in order to create an intellectual property strategy that will bring you significant economic benefits for your business and other endeavors.

One-on-one assistance

Patent One-on-one assistance is available via video conference or telephone. Pro se personnel are available to meet with applicants to answer patent-related questions and assist in filing their applications. Inventors may take advantage of one-on-one assistance by contacting the Pro Se Assistance Center to schedule an appointment.

The Trademark Assistance Center (TAC) is the main support center for trademark customers, from first-time filers to legal professionals and experienced trademark applicants. Contact TAC to make an appointment for one-on-one assistance.

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Patent Pro Bono Program

Inventors and small businesses that meet certain financial thresholds and other criteria may be eligible for free legal assistance in preparing and filing a patent application. The Patent Pro Bono Program is a nationwide network of independently operated regional programs that match volunteer patent professionals with financially under-resourced inventors and small businesses for the purpose of securing patent protection. Each regional program provides services for residents of one or more states.

The Washington Pro Bono Patent Network (“the Network”) matches financially under-resourced inventors in Washington state with volunteer patent attorneys providing free legal assistance in preparing and filing patent applications

The Network is operated by the University of Washington School of Law’s Center for Advanced Study and Research on Innovation Policy (CASRIP) and was launched with assistance from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Patent attorneys assist inventors with the preparation and filing of provisional and non-provisional applications. The inventor is not charged for attorney services. The inventor is still responsible for all fees related to the application, including the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office filing fees.

The attorney match process can take up three months. A match is not guaranteed. If we are unable match an inventor and an attorney within three month of receiving the completed Inventor Applications Form, we will contact that inventor.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to receive services through the Washington Pro Bono Patent Network, you must:

  1. Reside in Washington state.
  2. Have a total combined gross household income of less than or equal to 300% of the Federal Poverty Guideline. In addition to income, we also consider other assets, such as savings, stock holdings, and home equity, when determining financial eligibility. 
  3. Complete the USPTO’s online Basic Patent Training Certification Course (English) or the Basic Patent Training Certification Course (versión en español). Your Certificate of Completion is required with your application to the Washington Pro Bono Patent Network.
  4. Be prepared to pay the cost of any filing fees or other USPTO fees associated with your patent application.
  5. Pay a non-refundable application fee at the time of application.
  6. Have an actual invention, not just an idea. Your invention is more than just an idea if one or more of the following is true:
    • You have a prototype of your invention.
    • You have a detailed drawing of the invention describing how it works.
    • You are able to describe your invention so that someone else could actually make it and use it.

The Washington Pro Bono Patent Network reserves the right to reject applications for any reason. Reasons you may be disqualified or ineligible:

  • Harassment of staff
  • Incomprehensible application
  • Failure to abide by the rules

If you meet all of the above requirements and are interested in being matched with a volunteer patent attorney, please fill out the WA Pro Bono Network Inventor Application Form

Attach your Certificate of Completion of the USPTO’s online Basic Patent Training and most recent tax return with Social Security Number obscured. Please note that an application fee must be submitted along with the application.

If you have a co-inventor (i.e., another person who collaborated with you to create the invention), the co-inventor will need to submit the Co-Inventor Application. All co-inventors are required to submit similar information, including the Certificate of Completion of the USPTO Basic Patent Training and their tax return to ensure financial eligibility. After your application and the co-inventor’s application are received, we will process your request.

This pro bono assistance means only that legal fees will be waived by an attorney agreeing to work on your matter. There may be other fees and costs associated with your matter that you will be responsible for paying, such as patent filing fees, prior art search fees, drawing fees, extension fees, etc. The attorney helping you will not be able to pay these fees on your behalf.

Law school clinics

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

The Entrepreneurial Law Clinic is an innovative clinic that serves entrepreneurs in the Pacific Northwest. The ELC brings together law and business students, as well as pro bono lawyers and business advisors. They provide crucial early-stage legal and business advice to entrepreneurs, small businesses owners, social entrepreneurs, non-profits, and University of Washington Institute for Translational Health Sciences faculty.

 The ELC is a key component of the innovation ecosystem of the Pacific Northwest by providing this counseling. The ELC partners with CoMotion and The Seattle Public Library to present presentations on topics that are of interest to startups. These presentations are free to the public.

Patent and Trademark Resource Centers

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), provides training and tools for trademark and patent research to libraries across the country. These Patent and Trademark Resource Centers, or PTRCs, make research tools available for the public. The USPTO has designated the University of Washington Engineering Library as the Patent and Trademark Resource Center for Washington State (PTRC).

Patenting an invention and trademarking a product name can be challenging. PTRC 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.

PTRC library representatives can:

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

To be designated as a Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC), a library must meet specific requirements and agree to fulfill certain obligations as outlined in the brochure Notes on Becoming a Patent and Trademark Resource Center.

A PTRC must provide public accessibility to products and services, offer patent and trademark training as well as provide reference assistance and outreach to the public. The intellectual property resources of some libraries significantly exceed the core requirements. All libraries have access to U.S. patents since 1790. 

If you intend to hire an attorney (recommended), the USPTO maintains a roster of active patent attorneys and agents registered with the USPTO. Find an attorney or agent by selecting Washington from the list of states in the search field.

Washington Small Business Development Center

The SBDC is a joint effort between Washington State University (WSU) and the US Small Business Administration. Washington SBDC is a network of expert advisors to help entrepreneurs or small business owners start, grow or buy/sell a business.The SBDC offers confidential assistance in technical business affairs and management. WSBDC offers training, education, information, and sessions on a wide range of topics, including intellectual property.

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Small Business Administration – Seattle District Office

The US Small Business Administration (SBA) provides assistance and counseling to entrepreneurs and small businesses. The SBA provides a variety of education and training opportunities as well as technical assistance and information.  In addition to the Seattle District Office, there are a range of SBA offices and partner organizations and agencies across Washington State, the Pacific Northwest, and the US.  The SBA website has a searchable “Local Assistance” page to help locate resources in your area.

The office provides help with SBA services including funding programs, counseling, federal contracting certifications, and disaster recovery. They can also connect you to our partner organizations, lenders, and other community groups that help small businesses succeed.