Patent pro bono project to launch in March

vbridges@newsobserver.comFebruary 10, 2014 

— struggling entrepreneurs who need assistance with patent applications could have a new resource option as soon as March.

The N.C. Bar Association plans to launch in March a Patent Pro Bono Project in collaboration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The Patent Pro Bono Project, approved Jan. 23 by the N.C. Bar Association's Board of Governors, positions NC LEAP as the Southeast Regional Hub of a national endeavor that seeks to provide training to small businesses following recent changes to the America Invents Act.

Established in 2007, NC LEAP provides free legal resources and representation to low-wealth business owners. Currently serving clients in 53 counties, the program is open to entrepreneurs and small business owners in all 100 counties of the state.

The Patent Pro Bono Project will be operated through NC LEAP with educational assistance from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Entrepreneurs seeking free patent assistance will undergo an education and certification process administered by the federal patent office. Then their needs will be evaluated by NC LEAP to determine program eligibility.

Entrepreneurs who are approved for assistance through the Patent Pro Bono Project will work with patent counsel to evaluate the entrepreneur’s ideas, file patent applications and/or conduct other business with the federal patent office.

The Patent Pro Bono Project is open to entrepreneurs in the Carolinas, eastern Tennessee and southern Virginia. Entrepreneurs in other regions are encouraged to contact the USPTO as similar projects are ongoing in Minnesota, California and Colorado.

Entrepreneurs who would like to learn more or apply for help with business-related legal issues (including patent help) can visit www.ncleap.com. Attorneys who would like to volunteer with the Patent Pro Bono Project or any of the NC LEAP services can sign up by clicking here.

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