A couple of years ago, the U.S. Patent Office (USPTO) launched a pilot program called the “Pro Se Assistance Program” to help Pro Se (i.e., without an attorney) patent applicants. According to the USPTO, the Pro Se program was set up to provide “[a]pplicants [with] a better understanding of the [patent application] process and filing requirements, as well as a packet of all the necessary forms.”
One truly amazing aspect of the program is that potential patent applicants may schedule an appointment to meet with and get cost-free assistance from a USPTO Pro Se program representative. If the inventor doesn’t live in the Washington D.C. area, he/she may also schedule a telephone appointment or communicate with the Pro Se representatives by email.
In-person assistance for pro se applicants is available at USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. Pro Se program representatives will meet with applicants to answer questions and assist them in filing their patent applications. Due to high demand, though, if you’re interested in a face-to-face meeting, you’ll have to schedule an appointment ahead of time.
To make an appointment, you can call 571-272-8877 (toll free: 1-866-767-3848) or email the USPTO at firstname.lastname@example.org(link sends e-mail).
Office hours are: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday, except holidays. The Pro Se program’s address is 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, Virginia, 22313.
In addition to one-on-one application assistance from program representatives, the Pro Se program also includes:
- Dedicated personnel for assisting pro se applicants;
- Targeted support to connect applicants with relevant resources and information; and
- Online resources found on the Pro Se program’s web page.
The Pro Se program’s website also has a nifty patent application before-filing checklist. You can pull up a printable pdf of the checklist by visiting the link here.
For more info on the program and general aspects of the patent application process, you can check out the video below:
Have you scheduled a one-on-one appointment or used any of the Pro Se Program’s resources yet? If so, let us know how it went.