Information for Volunteer Attorneys

Chicago-Kent Patent Hub

Thank you for your interest in volunteering for Chicago-Kent's pro bono patent program. The program is designed to assist qualified low-income inventors and small businesses with the patent process by matching them with volunteer patent attorneys in accordance with the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA). 

The AIA encourages the USPTO to work with associations across the country in the establishment of pro bono programs to match financially under-resourced, independent inventors and small businesses. The Chicago-Kent Patent Hub provides those matching services for inventors and volunteer attorneys based in Illinois.

Guidelines and Scope of Volunteer Services

Scope of Representation

  • The attorney will draft and file one non-provisional U.S. patent application.
  • The attorney will prosecute the patent application at the USPTO until either (i) a response is filed to a final office action or (ii) the application issues as a patent.
  • The attorney will commit to monitor and docket all deadlines.
  • The attorney is not responsible for requests for continued examination, appeals, challenges to USPTO decisions in a court of law, prosecution after issue or response to final office action, foreign patent applications, international patent applications, or additional U.S. patent applications.
  • The attorney's services may be expanded by mutual agreement between the inventor(s) and the attorney, which should be in writing.
  • The attorney may only withdraw from representation if allowed to do so under applicable ethical rules.

Pro Bono Service

  • The attorney will require no attorney fees or paralegal fees for the listed services, but may require prepayment of outside costs such as government filing fees.

How the Hub Will Match Inventors with Attorneys

  • Volunteer attorneys will be matched with inventors or small businesses based on the field of the invention and the preferred technical fields of expertise of the attorney.

Engagement Letter and Reporting to Hub

  • All matches are subject to satisfaction of a conflict check and execution of an engagement letter between the inventor and the attorney. A separate agreement will be executed by the Chicago-Kent Patent Hub, the inventor and the attorney.
  • The attorney will commit to completing any reporting forms providing information needed for reports to the USPTO and will submit a close-out form when the case is concluded indicating date of close, results and hours of service.

Application

If you are interested in volunteering for the Chicago-Kent Patent Hub, please complete this online application form.

If you have questions, contact Mary Anne Smith, director of the Chicago-Kent Patent Hub, at (312) 906-5379.