Patents Ver 2

Solo inventors and small groups of inventors may now be eligible for pro bono patent assistance. As part of the America Invents Act, Volunteer Lawyers Birmingham is part of a national program aimed to help those with limited financial resources obtain patents. Under current federal law, patents are given out on a “first to file the patent” basis and not a “first to invent” basis. Thus, VLB’s pro bono patent program is vital to protect solo inventors that lack the necessary means to obtain a patent.

VLB is the regional hub for solo inventors or a small group of inventors in Alabama and Mississippi that need help obtaining a patent. The program will help inventors find qualified pro bono patent agents and attorneys to help file a patent. To qualify for the program and be matched with an attorney, you must meet four basic requirements, listed at the bottom of this page.

Qualification and placement is based on a case-by-case basis and there is no guarantee that you will be placed with a patent attorney.

VLB is also seeking attorneys throughout Alabama and Mississippi to pair with inventors. Please contact Graham Hewitt if you are a patent attorney interested in helping low-income citizens with pro bono patent assistance.

**It is important to note that the patent application process will still involve additional costs, like filing fees, search fees, maintenance fees, administrative fees, that are to be borne by the clients.

Please click here for a complete list of all requirements.

Please click here to download the VLB Patent Application.

Please e-mail Graham Hewitt the completed application.

Click here to visit the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Questions? Please click here.

Income Eligibility

Income eligible inventors will be within 200% of the federal poverty level.

Household Size Yearly Income Under
1 person $24,980
2 persons $33,820
3 persons $42,660
4 persons $51,500
5 persons $60,340
6 persons $69,180

USPTO Online Patent Training Module

All inventors must complete the USPTO online training module or participate in an approved training seminar. Click here to complete the online training module.

Actual Invention

Interested inventors need to have more than just an idea before being eligible for the program. You should be able to describe your invention in a way that someone could actually make and use the invention. **Do not publicly disclose your invention prior to filing a patent application or provisional application.

Prior Art Search

All inventors must complete a prior art search before being matched with an attorney. A prior art search will help the patent attorney determine whether or not an application can be filed. Please click here to view the USPTO’s step-by-step guide on completing a prior art search.