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Texas AIA - USPTO Pro Bono Patent Assistance Program


In 2011, Congress passed the America Invents Act (AIA), which called for the U.S. Patent Trademark Office (USPTO) to establish new satellite patent offices to be opened nationwide by 2014. As a result, the north Texas region will get 1 of 4 satellite patent offices, which will open in 2014. The other 3 are being established in San Jose, CA; Denver, CO; and Detroit, MI.

Texas and Southwest U.S. cities are among the top sources of new patent applications in America, with more than a quarter of these patents awarded to small businesses. So, the establishment of a satellite office in north Texas is important for those businesses to continue creating jobs. Yet, one comment most often heard is that independent inventors sometimes cannot afford the cost of competent legal service to assist them in the preparation and prosecution of their patent application.

Inventor Assistance Pro Bono Program

One of the many answers to the concern of patent costs that the America Invents Act provides is the establishment of an Inventor Assistance Pro Bono Program. The Inventor Assistance Pro Bono Program provides a way to offer services to inventors and small businesses that meet a certain financial need level, have done a search themselves or through a service provider, and have gone through a training package developed by the USPTO. Under the Inventor Assistance Pro Bono Program, patent attorneys and agents in regions across the country will be able to serve inventors, advancing invention-based economic development.

Read more on the program here.

Check out the full press release here!


Pro Bono Assistance Office for Texas/South Central U.S. Announced

The Center for Innovation, an Arlington, Texas based non-profit organization, has been chosen to serve as the Texas and Southwestern U.S. regional office for the Inventor Assistance Pro Bono Program as part of the AIA pro bono initiative. The actual office was staffed and opened on  July 15, 2013.

Pro Bono Assistance Office Supported by TechComm

The Office is associated with TechComm, a federal technology transfer Partner Intermediary, established by the Center in 2010, at the invitation of the U.S. Department of Defense.  TechComm is a coalition of 9 U.S. federal agencies and the 334 federal labs they operate. Through TechComm, the Center works to advance the commercialization of federally funded research, by (1) the transfer of federal patented technology to business and industry for commercial use and manufacturing through Patent License Agreements (PLAs); (2) the establishment of cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs) between federal labs with university, business and industry partners; and (3) identifying technology from the market of interest to the federal agencies and labs, that can be procured by the federal agency/lab.

In support of TechComm, the Center has established a national network of corporations, universities, economic development organizations, and venture funds. Therefore, TechComm’s serving as the office for the Texas and Southwestern regional office of the Inventor Assistance Pro Bono Program offers a number of promising benefits.

Current Status

We are currently ascertaining interest in this initiative from 4 primary sectors:  (1) the legal community, (2) the business community, (3) law schools; and (4) the “technology transfer” community.  Our primary interest is to identify participants from each sector, that will work with the Center to assist in the development and implementation of a plan that will most effectively serve the pro bono clients, the volunteer patent attorneys/agents, and the USPTO. Participants will help lead our region in providing volunteer resources for appropriately identified and prepared inventors, as well as excellent pro bono service opportunities for patent attorneys and agents. Our inaugural meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, September 5, in Austin at the State Capital from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm, followed by the initial meeting of the Steering Committee from 1:00 – 2:30 pm.

Program Qualifications:

Solo Inventors who …

  • have a total combined household income of less than 300% of the poverty guidelines; and
  • are not currently under an obligation to assign the rights to the invention.

Non-profits that …

  • have 4 or fewer inventors who are under an obligation to assign the rights to the organization;
  • have 501(c)(3) status;
  • have budgets of less than $1 million per year;
  • are not research institutions or institutions of higher learning; and
  • are not currently under any obligation to assign the rights to the invention to another entity.

Small businesses/Inventor groups that …

  • have 4 or fewer inventors, where all inventors have current household incomes of less than 300% of the poverty guidelines;
  • if already formed, had a total gross income of less than $150,000 in the preceding calendar year;
  • expect a total gross income of less than $150,000 in the current calendar year;
  • are not currently under any obligation to assign the rights to the invention to another entity.
  • Under most circumstances, all inventors should already be under an obligation to assign rights to the invention to the “business,” though we will consider the circumstances of each case, individually.

Additionally, placement with a volunteer patent agent/attorney remains within the sole discretion of the program administrator.

Pursuant to 37 CFR § 1.29, we will not accept any application where one of the listed inventors has been named on more than 4 previous U.S. Patents or Pending Applications. There is a limited exception for former employees who have assigned all rights to the patent to a former employer.

Steps to Apply:

Click through each step below to explore the steps required to apply through this program. Each step is important, and inventors who bypass any step will not be matched with an agent or attorney.

1. Basic Requirements

2. Patent Training

3. Prior Art Search

4. Submit Application

Administrative Fee:

Texas Patent Assistance Program charges a nominal administrative fee, payable upon submission, before placing your case with an attorney.  The fee does not go to the attorney or patent agent, and is separate from any fees due to the USPTO during the patent prosecution process.  This fee helps Texas Patent Assistance Program defray the costs associated with running its pro bono program.

Solo Inventors


Small Business




Common USPTO Fees:

You remain responsible for paying the appropriate filing, search, examination, and issuance fees.  The information contained below is for informational purposes only.  Inventors should check the official USPTO publication of fees before relying on any of the amounts listed below.  Your application may necessitate payment of other fees not listed.

Code Section


Regular Cost

Micro-Entity Cost


Provisional Application Fee




Regular Application: Utility




Regular Application: Design/Plant




Independent Claims, in excess of 3




Claims in excess of 20





Search Fees




Utility Patent Examination




Design Patent Examination




Plant Patent Examination




Utility Issue Fee




Design Issue Fee




Plant Issue Fee



Poverty Information:

We rely on information provided by the Department of Health and Human Services, published yearly and available at aspe.hhs.gov.  The data provided below is for informational purposes only and may not be updated as quickly as the statistics available on the official website.

For more than 8, add $4,160/person to determine poverty (or $12,480 for 300% poverty), but no single inventor may have a total household income of more than $150,000.

2015 Poverty Guidelines:

Number in Household

Poverty Level

300% Poverty


























For more than 8, add $4,160/person to determine poverty (or $12,480 for 300% poverty), but no single inventor may have a total household income of more than $150,000.

Contact Information

If you are interested in attending the meeting or being involved with the Pro Bono Assistance Program, please contact the Center for Innovation. The contact information is as follows:

Kelly Jackson

Director, Pro Bono Assistance Program
Center for Innovation
505 E. Border Street
Arlington, TX 76010
214/783-1499 C

Glenda McCall
Executive Assistant
Center for Innovation
505 E. Border Street
Arlington, TX 76010
817/543-4294 W

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