IIT Chicago-Kent joins with USPTO to establish pro bono patent program to assist low-income inventors

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) have collaborated to establish the Chicago-Kent Patent Hub, a pro bono program that will help qualified, low-income inventors and small businesses in Illinois obtain volunteer legal assistance from local patent agents or attorneys licensed to practice before the USPTO.

IIT Chicago-Kent and the Jules F. Knapp Entrepreneurship Center at IIT will host a public event to launch the Chicago-Kent Patent Hub on October 14 at 5 p.m. at the law school, 565 West Adams Street (between Clinton and Jefferson streets) in Chicago. USPTO pro bono coordinator Jennifer McDowell will participate in the launch program, which is expected to draw inventors, entrepreneurs and attorneys.

The Chicago-Kent Patent Hub was created as part of a USPTO pro bono initiative to provide assistance with the patent application and prosecution process for inventors in all 50 states. The Chicago-Kent Patent Hub will coordinate services to inventors in Illinois, who are requesting assistance and who meet eligibility requirements to participate in the program. The Chicago-Kent Patent Hub will not provide legal advice. Its services are limited to screening applicants for eligibility and referring those applicants to volunteer attorneys for evaluation and possible representation.

"We are proud to collaborate with the Patent and Trademark Office in this initiative," said Mary Anne Smith, director of the IIT Chicago-Kent Patent Hub. "We are working with the Chicago legal community to recruit patent attorneys who will provide patent assistance to inventors in our program."

Smith has extensive pro bono experience. In 1988, she established a Chicago Volunteer Legal Services clinic at Visitation Church on Chicago's South Side, which she continues to chair, and has personally handled many cases for low income clients. After earning a master's degree from IIT and a law degree from IIT Chicago Kent, in 1977 she began her career at IIT as the university's first in house attorney and retired as vice president and general counsel in 2012.

Founded in 1888, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law is the law school of Illinois Institute of Technology, a private, technology-focused, research university offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, science, architecture, business, design, human sciences, applied technology and law.

The Jules F. Knapp Entrepreneurship Center at IIT offers a wide variety of supportive services for startup and existing small businesses located in and around Illinois Institute of Technology. The center is committed to helping neighborhood businesses grow and thrive, as well as helping IIT students, alumni, faculty and staff bring new ideas and services to life.

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