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USPTO Creates New Programs to Provide Economic Relief During Pandemic

Blog of Drew Hirshfeld, serving as the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO

In response to a January 2021 Executive Order (EO) on economic relief during the COVID-19 pandemic, we created an Economic Relief Working Group (ERWG) comprised of individuals from across the USPTO to identify and develop programs and strategies to achieve OE goals – specifically, “to bring the greatest relief to individuals, families and small businesses; and state, local, tribal and territorial governments. »

Similar to our Council for Inclusive Innovation (CI2), our goal with this working group is to dramatically increase awareness of the benefits of patents and trademarks among budding innovators and creators, and to remove barriers to access for those who have historically been underrepresented. in the American intellectual property (IP) system. We want more people to use our resources to start new businesses, develop new products and brands, grow their businesses, and in some cases create entirely new industries.

In particular, a year later, we have initiated more than a dozen projects to achieve this goal. Below, we’ve highlighted a few new and upcoming programs.

Extend USPTO Resources to a Wider Audience

We will soon be unveiling an “AccessUSPTO Pilot Program” aimed at bringing IP education to new audiences through enhanced collaboration with national organizations that help small businesses and creators not traditionally versed in IP. With this new program, we hope to reach more budding inventors and entrepreneurs and give them the tools they need to protect their ideas, creations and brands.

Another upcoming program is the Tribal Nations Partnership, a year-long initiative to help Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians who want to establish or expand their e-commerce presence, through monthly sessions. focused on topics ranging from entrepreneurship to marketing and planning. We are also extending our intellectual property education programs to regions of the country that have been underrepresented in the innovation economy through strategic collaboration with historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic service institutions, tribal colleges and universities and community colleges to deliver training and outreach programs that seek to broaden participation in the innovation ecosystem at all levels.

Enhanced training opportunities for filing claims

Additionally, through our new Stakeholder Application Readiness Training (StART) program, launching as a pilot program this spring, a select group of aspiring inventors will be able to participate in an intensive three-day training program on the application to empower them with the tools and knowledge to successfully file a patent application. Additionally, the ERWG will pilot a Client Ambassador program this summer to help a select group of individual or joint inventors file their own case and avoid common mistakes throughout the application process.

New pro bono programs

The costs of preparing a patent application should never discourage those who want to protect their inventions. That’s why, for many years, the regional nonprofit organizations that make up the Patent Pro Bono program have worked to match volunteer patent professionals with financially underfunded inventors and small businesses in their regions in the purpose of obtaining patent protection. Based on the success of the program, not only will we be launching a new Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) pro bono program in 2022, but we will also be launching a new Patent Trial Board pro bono program soon. Instance and Trademark Appeals (TTAB) . These programs will provide free legal assistance to financially disadvantaged individuals and businesses involved in patent or trademark proceedings before the Chambers. These important programs are born out of our valuable collaborations with the PTAB Bar Association and the International Trademark Association (INTA), and will connect volunteer member lawyers with eligible inventors and entrepreneurs seeking legal assistance to secure and defend their patents and trademark registrations.

For those interested in learning more about how to apply for patent or trademark registration, we encourage you to visit our revamped resources page for inventors and entrepreneurs. Additionally, we recently launched a new free services page that highlights the many intellectual property resources we provide for free. As always, we welcome your feedback and invite you to join us at one of our upcoming Patent Public Advisory Committee meetings or Trademark Public Advisory Committee meetings.

Our economy thrives when we put American innovators first. We are honored to do our part to help everyone whose ideas move our economy forward.