Information for Inventors

Qualifications and Application

Before submitting an application to the PTAB Pro Bono program, you must read all the information below. You will not be admitted to our program if you do not meet the requirements.

Additionally, placement with a volunteer patent practitioner is at the sole discretion of the program administrator. Failure to be prepared, courteous, and respectful to PTAB Pro Bono staff or a volunteer patent practitioner will result in expulsion from the program and denial of future services from PTAB Pro Bono.

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Information for Inventors

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) is a tribunal within the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) that reviews rejections made by patent examiners.  If a patent examiner twice rejects or issues a final rejection in a patent application, then the applicant can seek review of the rejection by a panel of three technically and legally trained administrative patent judges.  In proceedings called ex parte appeals, the PTAB will review the correctness of the patent examiner’s rejection.  

The PTAB Bar Association matches qualified financially under-resourced inventors, inventor groups, and inventor-owned small businesses with experienced patent practitioners to represent them before the PTAB.  In this Program, patent practitioners will assist inventors in preparing, filing, and arguing ex parte appeals before the PTAB.  Patent practitioner services are provided at no cost.  However, the inventor, inventor group, or inventor-owned small business remains responsible for paying any government required fees associated with the appeal.

Eligibility Requirements

The Patent Pro Bono Program supports solo inventors, inventor groups, and inventor-owned small businesses. Each category of applicant has different requirements to qualify for assistance from our organization, but each typically has to show:

Solo Inventor Qualifications

To qualify as a Solo Inventor:

Inventor Group Qualifications

To qualify as an Inventor Group:

Inventor-Owned Small Business Qualifications

To qualify as an Inventor-Owned Small Business:

Other Requirements

In addition to the above requirements, the applicant(s) must not otherwise be represented by a patent practitioner for the PTAB proceeding and must be prepared to pay the cost of any government required appeal processing fees or other fees associated with your appeal.

Federal Poverty Guideline

The PTAB Pro Bono Program uses the Federal Poverty Guideline as the basis for determining financial eligibility to receive pro bono services. The Guideline is adjusted based on the number of people in your household. For the most accurate numbers, please check here.

Pre-Application Checklist

Before starting your application, please make sure you:

Upon acceptance into the program, the PTAB Bar Association will attempt to match an inventor, inventor group, or inventor-owned small business with a volunteer patent practitioner. A match is not guaranteed. In the event that the PTAB Pro Bono Program is unable to find match within one month of acceptance into the Program, you will be contacted to inform you that the PTAB Bar Association was unable to place you with a patent practitioner.

The PTAB Bar Association reserves the right to reject applications for any reason, for example:


Apply as a Solo Inventor.
Apply as an Inventor Group.
Apply as an Inventor-Owned Small Business.

For questions about applying to receive pro bono services under the PTAB Pro Bono Program, please contact: