Upon the passage of the America Invents Act (“AIA”) and in an effort to help individuals and corporations who are unable to afford legal advice relating to intellectual property, the USPTO has recently announced two additional pro bono assistance programs in California and the District of Columbia. With the addition of these two programs, the USPTO has created four intellectual property pro bono programs across the United States and is forecasting an additional ten by the end of 2013.

In California, the program will be run by the California Lawyers for the Arts, and in D.C. the program will be run by the Federal Circuit Bar Association (“FCBA”). The FCBA will provide assistance to individuals and businesses in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Additionally, the FCBA has also taken on the role as the “National Clearing House” for pro bono assistance by collecting information from the interested candidates, providing an initial eligibility screening, and forwarding the information to a regional pro bono organization so that the appropriate attorney can be paired with each applicant.

Furthermore, the USPTO will provide an online application portal including an application, invention disclosure form, online seminar, and a searchable list of programs in various states. Individuals and corporations interested in obtaining information about pro bono assistance should visit the Federal Circuit Bar Association website.

Jillian A. Centanni is an Associate in the Gibbons Intellectual Property Department.