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Unless you at east have the money for the official filing fees, you are probably out of luck. If you have at least that amount, depending upon what you want to patent and its commercial viability, you may be able to find someone who will defer their fees (but not many). Check with some of the law schools near you. They may have a clinic where patent law professor may be able/willing to help.
In any event, what is your purpose for wanting a patent? If you have no money, you probably can't commercialize your invention or afford to make the effort to get someone with money interested.
If you have invented something with commercial viability, talk to friends and family to see if you can muster up enough that way to pay for preparation of a proper patent application. In the meanwhile, do not disclose your invention (at least without a non-disclosure/non-use agreement drafted by a competent attorney in place) or you could kill your chances of getting any protection at all.
This information is intended to be general and educational in nature. It is not intended to be specific legal advice or establish an attorney-client relationship. I require a signed retainer agreement from a potential client to establish an attorney-client relationship and before I will provide specific legal representation.
The first thing I would do is have the invention evaluated by a patent lawyer to make sure a patent is plausible and worth pursuing. You may be able to locate a law school IP clinic or as my colleague offered work with a pro bono program but this is easier said than done.
As a general rule of thumb, if there has not been much money invested in the invention or if it does not conern some serious techology pursuing a patent may not offer very much of return.
This is something you need to consider very carefully. Please discuss with several professionals before making any committments because this area is full of SCAM artists.
Most of us here, including myself, offer a free phone consult.
The law firm of Natoli-Lapin, LLC (Home of Lantern Legal Services) offers our flat-rate legal services in the areas of business law and intellectual property to entrepreneurs, small-to-medium size businesses, independent inventors and artists across the nation and abroad. Feel free to call for a free phone consultation; your inquiries are always welcome:
DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed on the basis of this posting.
There are very few patent lawyers or patent agents who will work pro bono. Further, if you do not have the modest sum necessary to pay for a patent application, then you probably also do not have sufficient resources to commercialize your product. Your first step is to consult with any of the lawyers on AVVO (such as myself) who offer free consultation. You need to find out if you have an invention that could be protected by a patent--you would be surprised how often people believe they have something that is very valuable, when in fact, it cannot be protected by patent law because it is either obvious or not novel. If it looks like you have a viable invention, then you need to draft a business plan and working finding investors either through crowd funding or more traditional mechanisms. We are waiting for issuance of new regulations from the SEC which will make it easier more feasible for persons in your situation to solicit investments via either crown-funding and/or equity investments of amounts under $1 million. This is an exciting time for persons in your situation, because if you have a valuable investment new mechanisms are about to be put into practice by the SEC that drastically improve your chances of raising the funding necessary to move forward with your project. As I said before, your first step is to have a free consultation with patent counsel. Many of the patent attorneys who work with start-up companies also help these companies prepare business plans and scout out potential investors. And be careful of scam artists---there are many non-lawyer organizations that offer assistance ot investors in commercializing inventions in exchange for modest fees of a few hundred dollars---these are invariably scams. It takes thousands of dollars to draft and prosecute a patent application, and much more to adequately fund commercialization efforts. Avoid the temptation to take the easy, cheap way out.
You may ask why there are no, or almost no pro-bono patent attorneys, and the answer is simple. A patent is a business asset that has value on its own, such as the title to real estate property, and as any business requires money.
You do not need a patent to manufacture/sell your product, so get your product in the market first, prove it is unique and use the money to fund your next business.
USPTO Registered Patent Attorney, Master of Intellectual Property law, MBA
I am neither your attorney, nor my answers or comments in AVVO.com create an attorney-client relationship with you. You may accept or disregard my free advice in AVVO.com at your own risk. I am a Patent Attorney, admitted to the USPTO and to the Florida Bar.
It is extremely unlikely you will find a patent attorney willing to work pro bono. Patent law is a very specialized area of law which requires even more education than a simple law degree. If your item is so special,. you stand to make a significant amount of money. Go see a patent attorney and discuss your idea. If it is worth he effort, perhaps you can make some sort of arrangement for payment of fees.
It is extremely rare to fine a patent attorney who will work pro bono on a patent case. There are a few that will defer fees, but that is rare as well. You are better off trying to borrow money from family and friends.
I am an attorney licensed to practice in Texas, Louisiana and before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and the above may not be an accurate assessment of the laws for your area. The above should be taken as general guidance and not specific legal advice. For specific legal advice you should seek a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction practicing in the area specific to your issue. The above does not constitute or establish an attorney client relationship. If you wish to receive specific advice about your legal issue, then contact my office to schedule a personal consultation.