Pro Bono > International Inventor Assistance > Overview & FAQ

Overview & FAQ

For International Opportunities, view below
For National Opportunities, go here.

International Opportunities

A collaboration involving the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Economic Forum (The Forum) as leading international entities, and key sponsors like the European Patent Institute (EPI), the Inter-American Association of Intellectual Property (ASIPI), the International Federation of Inventors’ Association (IFIA), Novartis, Qualcomm, 3M, Pfzier and the Federal Circuit Bar Association. The Inventor Assistance Program (IAP) seeks to assists economically underprivileged inventors around the world. The program connects inventors and small businesses from developing countries, with limited financial means, to patent attorneys willing to provide pro bono legal assistance to secure patent protection in their respective countries and in other key jurisdictions, namely, U.S. and Europe. Currently, participating countries include Colombia, Morocco, South Africa, and the Philippines. The program will be progressively expanded to other countries.


U.S. National Stage Entry Outreach. Process In General

In general, the outside the United States (OUS) foreign attorney representing the foreign inventor (Patent Applicant) will contact the Federal Circuit Bar Association’s (FCBA) Pro Bono Coordinator (Coordinator) expressing initial interest in IAP pro bono consideration. The FCBA will forward the information from the OUS to attorneys who have identified themselves as having possible interest in providing pro bono assistance (Possible Pro Bono Counsel). To receive these FCBA alerts, the Possible Pro Bono Counsel will record certain information through this LINK. The resulting list of names will be maintained by the FCBA and organized on a first-in-time basis. The OUS continues to represent the Patent Applicant. The FCBA’s Coordinator will compile requests received (including short and generic descriptions of inventions provided with the requests) and forward those to the Possible Pro Bono Counsel on the List. The Possible Pro Bono Counsel will be asked to indicate, within 48 hours of receiving the forwarded information, to the Coordinator whether there is interest. The Coordinator will provide the contact information for the OUS attorney to the Possible Pro Bono Counsel who is first-in-time to indicate interest after receiving the forwarded information. The Possible Pro Bono Counsel will make contact with the OUS Attorney. Pro bono representation is not guaranteed.

Whether an attorney client relationship is arranged, the terms of any such relationship, and any communications relative to the consideration of such a relationship are matters solely for the Patent Applicant, the OUS, and the Possible Pro Bono Counsel. The Association does not represent the Patent Applicant, the OUS, or the Possible Pro Bono Counsel, nor does it supervise the work of the Possible Pro Bono Counsel, before or after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Professional responsibility insurance remains a matter for the Pro Bono Counsel. The Association does not provide insurance. In no event should the Pro Bono Counsel, the Patent Applicant, or the OUS provide any information to the FCBA as to which confidentiality is necessary. Further details are available at LINK. Timelines. The OUS is expected to take steps to arrange that any patent filing deadlines will be met. Requests to forward information to U.S. volunteer attorney should be made no later than three months before the U.S. national phase deadlines. Requests made in disregard of this timeline will not be honored. (See MPEP Ch. 1800 sec 1842 Basic Flow Under the PCT [R-07.2015])

PLEASE NOTE: The IAP outreach undertakes to provide information to attorneys for consideration, by those attorneys, with respect to possible representation. As noted above, the consideration of representation is a matter for the attorney and his or her firm. The attorneys are not agents of the FCBA. The outreach is not a guarantee of pro bono representation. The FCBA is pleased to offer this informational service. The Federal Circuit Bar Association is not an instrument or agency of the United States Government or of any other government or organization.

University of Detroit Mercy School of Law
International Property Law Clinic
Director, Wissam Aoun, JD, Assistant Professor

Detroit-Mercy School of law plays an important leadership role in supporting the WIPO Inventor Assistance Program (IAP) through our clinical progra, by assisting in filing US National Phase IAP applications. International intellectual property clinical practice is the cornerstone of Detroit-Mercy’s clinical program. Practicing in an international clinical environment provides students with an exceptional experiential learning opportunity. In a rapidly changing world, an international experience provides an essential value to students for the future of intellectual property practice. Detroit-Mercy views the phenomenal WIPO IAP as promoting both the transformative power of intellectual property for the lives of sole inventors and startups throughout the developing world and supporting the creation of a spirit of innovation and a spirit of pro bono practice. These values are central to the Detroit-Mercy clinical curriculum.

Inaugural Friends of the Inventors Assistance (IAP) Program
United States National Stage Entry Outreach

As IAP enters upon the United States National Stage Entry Outreach, sincere appreciation extends to the following organizations for their energy in, and encouragement of, the Outreach.

Fish & Richardson
Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP
Troutman Sanders LLP
Volpe and Koenig, P.C.
Banner & Witcoff, Ltd.
Wuersch & Gering, LLP.
Cravath, Swaine & Moore, LLP.
Morrison & Foerster LLP.
Patterson Thuente IP
Plumsea Law Group LLC.

Honorary Advisor of the Inventors Assistance (IAP) Program

Circuit Judge Jimmie V. Reyna

  • Federal Circuit Bar Association®
  • 1620 I Street NW, Suite 801, Washington, DC 20006
  • Phone: 202-466-3923
  • Fax: 202-833-1061