Solo inventors and small groups of inventors may now be eligible for pro bono patent assistance. As part of the America Invents Act, the Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program is part of a national program aimed to help those with limited financial resources obtain patents. Under current federal law, patents are given out on a “first to file the patent” basis and not a “first to invent” basis. Thus, the BBVLP pro bono patent program is vital to protect solo inventors that lack the necessary means to obtain a patent.

The BBVLP is the regional hub for solo inventors or a small group of inventors  in Alabama and Mississippi that need help obtaining a patent. The program will help inventors find qualified pro bono patent agents and attorneys to help file a patent. To qualify for the program, you must meet three basic requirements (click for more information):

For a complete list of all requirements, please click here.

Qualification and placement is based on a case-by-case basis and there is no guarantee that you will be placed with a patent attorney.

The BBVLP is also seeking attorneys throughout Alabama and Mississippi to pair with inventors. Please contact Graham Hewitt if you are a patent attorney interested in helping low-income citizens with pro bono patent assistance.

Income Eligibility

  • Income eligible inventors will be within 200% of the federal poverty level.
Household Size Yearly Income Under
1 person $23,540
2 persons $31,860
3 persons $40,180
4 persons $48,500
5 persons $56,820
6 persons $65,140

USPTO Online Patent Training Module

Actual Invention

  • Interested inventors need to have more than just an idea before being eligible for the program. You should be able to describe your invention in a way that someone could actually make and use the invention. **Do not publicly disclose your invention prior to filing a patent application or provisional application.

**It is important to note that the patent application process will still involve additional costs, like filing fees, search fees, maintenance fees, administrative fees, that are to be borne by the clients.

Please click here to download the BBVLP Patent Application.

Please e-mail Graham Hewitt the completed application.

Click here to visit the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Questions? Please click here.