Who Can Help Me with My Patent Search and Application?
Patents, trademarks, and other intellectual property rights involve specialized legal procedures and can involve significant business operating investments.The preparation of an application for patent and the conducting of the proceedings in the United States Patent and Trademark Office to obtain the patent is an undertaking requiring the knowledge of patent law and rules and Office practice and procedures, as well as knowledge of the scientific or technical matters involved in the particular invention.
We strongly recommend that research, business planning, and applications regarding intellectual property be done in consultation with proper intellectual property legal professionals.
Our library services are designed to support the individual or corporate/legal researcher's efforts to conduct self-directed and preliminary research. Library staff cannot offer legal advice, conduct searches, assist in writing applications, guarantee completeness of searches, or advise on ideas.
Depending on your finances, patent knowledge, available time, and access to patent research tools, you can represent yourself -- pro se -- or work with someone, like a patent attorney, patent agent, searcher, legal clinic, student attorney, or pro bono attorney.
Law School Clinic Program
The Law School Clinic Certification Program allows law students enrolled in a participating law school's clinic program to practice Intellectual Property Law before the USPTO under the strict guidance of a Law School Faculty Clinic Supervisor. The program currently consists of students practicing in both patent and trademark law before the USPTO. The program is administered by the Office of Enrollment and Discipline. The Director of the Office of Enrollment and Discipline grants the law students limited recognition to practice before the Office.
Students gain experience drafting and filing either patent applications or trademark applications for clients of the law school clinic. Further, as they are authorized to practice before the USPTO, they gain experience answering Office Actions and communicating with either patent examiners or trademark examining attorneys for the applications they have filed.
Law schools participating in the USPTO's law school clinic program provide their services on a pro-bono basis to those that qualify. Each school has its own criteria for accepting clients. Please contact the school to inquire about becoming a client.
Participating schools in Connecticut (e-mail links):
Pro Bono Patent Representation
The non-profit organization VLANY Patent Pro Bono Program includes patent attorneys who voluntarily contribute legal services for independent inventors in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
The program’s main goal is to provide application drafting services for those innovators who believe they have a novel invention but have not yet filed for a patent. Additionally, those who have filed for provisional applications or have filed a non-provisional application but have not yet received an office action may be admitted on a case-by-case basis.
What Do Patent Attorneys and Agents Do?
(From the USPTO)
Inventors may prepare their own applications and file them in the USPTO and conduct the proceedings themselves, but unless they are familiar with these matters or study them in detail, they may get into considerable difficulty. While a patent may be obtained in many cases by persons not skilled in this work, there would be no assurance that the patent obtained would adequately protect the particular invention.
Most inventors employ the services of registered patent attorneys or patent agents. The law gives the USPTO the power to make rules and regulations governing conduct and the recognition of patent attorneys and agents to practice before the USPTO. Persons who are not recognized by the USPTO for this practice are not permitted by law to represent inventors before the USPTO. The USPTO maintains a register of attorneys and agents. To be admitted to this register, a person must comply with the regulations prescribed by the Office, which require a showing that the person is of good moral character and of good repute and that he or she has the legal, scientific, and technical qualifications necessary to render applicants for patents a valuable service. Certain of these qualifications must be demonstrated by the passing of an examination. Those admitted to the examination must have a college degree in engineering or physical science or the equivalent of such a degree.
The USPTO registers both attorneys at law and persons who are not attorneys at law. The former persons are now referred to as “patent attorneys,” and the latter persons are referred to as “patent agents.” Both patent attorneys and patent agents are permitted to prepare an application for a patent and conduct the prosecution in the USPTO. Patent agents, however, cannot conduct patent litigation in the courts or perform various services that the local jurisdiction considers as practicing law. For example, a patent agent could not draw up a contract relating to a patent, such as an assignment or a license, if the state in which he or she resides considers drafting contracts as practicing law.
Some colleges, universities, and non-profit organizations offer resources, guidance, and assistance for entrepreneurs:
Inventors' support groups can be valuable networking opportunities:
Some individuals and organizations that are not registered advertise their services in the fields of patent searching and invention marketing and development. Such individuals and organizations cannot represent inventors before the USPTO. They are not subject to USPTO discipline, but the USPTO does provide a public forum where complaints and responses concerning invention promoters/promotion firms are published.
Elihu Burritt Library
(access via Harold Lewis Drive)
Central Connecticut State University, 1615 Stanley Street, New Britain, CT 06050