Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts is invested in our creative community. With the passage of the America Invents Act, the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) is working with regional patent pro bono programs to assist financially under-resourced independent inventors and small businesses. The VLA has partnered with the USPTO and the Boston Patent Law Association to provide pro bono legal assistance to eligible inventors located in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Inventors from Connecticut, please contact the VLA of New York’s Patent Pro Bono Program.
The Patent Pro Bono Program is open to individuals and small businesses in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and/or Vermont who meet the program’s income guidelines. The eligibility cap is an adjusted gross income (AGI) under 300% of the federal poverty guidelines. Applicants must demonstrate their financial eligibility by submitting tax documents or equivalent financial information. The applicant must also be able to describe the invention. This means not simply having an idea for an invention, but rather, the inventor must be able to explain how someone could make and use the invention.
We also request that all applicants conduct a prior art search prior to applying for our program. For patent searching training and resources, consider visiting your state’s USPTO-designated Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC). PTRCs are public and academic libraries authorized to share patent and trademark information. PTRCs are typically staffed by trained research librarians who can assist you with your patent research.
The following PTRCs serve New England:
- Maine: University of Maine Fogler Library, (207) 581-1697
- Eastern Massachusetts: Boston Public Library, (617) 536-5400 option 3
- Western Massachusetts: UMass Amherst Science & Engineering Library, (413) 545-7891
- New Hampshire: University of New Hampshire School of Law Library, (603) 513-5139
- Vermont: University of Vermont Howe Library, (802) 656-2542
How to apply
- Complete and submit an application for each idea/invention for which you are seeking assistance: Application for services.
- Provide a copy of your most recent tax return showing your adjusted gross income.
- Please include the application fee of $55. Make checks payable to “Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston.” You may also pay your application fee online.
- Send your completed application and fee by email to email@example.com, or by postal mail to:
Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston
c/o Patent Pro Bono Program
15 Channel Center Street Suite 103
Boston MA 02210
Please note: Applicants who have not previously filed a provisional patent must also complete the USPTO’s Training Module and provide a certificate of completion with their application.
Based on the information in your application, the VLA will send your matter to our panel of patent attorneys on our monthly case list. While we endeavor to place all matters and to do so in a timely manner, due to the volunteer nature of our panel, we cannot provide urgent assistance and we cannot guarantee a referral.
If you have any inquires about the application process or the program generally, please contact Luke Blackadar at
firstname.lastname@example.org or at (617) 350-7600 x7016.
How to Volunteer
Attorneys in good standing in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, or Vermont and admitted to practice before the USPTO are welcome and encouraged to join our panel of volunteer attorneys. Learn more here.
The Patent Pro Bono Program of New England is made possible in part by support from the United States Patent & Trademark Office.