YOUR PATENT EXPERT BLOG #1:
FREE - "PRO-BONO" ADVICE FOR U.S. PATENTS - LINKS PROVIDED BY USPTO
Whether you are an entrepreneur / inventor, start-up company or even a patent lawyer or patent agent, many people are often looking for "FREE" or "PRO-BONO" legal advice on U.S. Patents. Whether you are filing a patent application and/or wanting to sue a party for patent infringement or you have been accused of patent infringement, clients often desire FREE or "Pro-Bono" legal services in which a lawyer and/or her law firm will not charge the client any money for legal services.
Many law firms do offer "pro-bono" legal services and/or contingency fee type legal fees for certain types of cases. While "pro-bono" legal services means a client will usually not pay for any of the legal services [except for expenses, like government fees, i.e. court costs, USPTO fees, etc.], "contingency fee" cases means that a lawyer will charge fees to a case only if the lawyer "wins" the case and the case is awarded some monetary fees. Often, the contingency fee will be a fixed percentage of the winnings, where the fixed percentage is agreed to in writing in advance of any winnings.
Contingency fee cases where lawyers may assess a fee based on a fixed percentage of total winnings in a case are most common for litigation (i.e. court/trial-based) cases in which a patent exists and is being asserted against another party in a trial court. Meanwhile, lawyers who draft patent applications and prosecute them in front of a Patent Office sometimes may agree to take stock from the company which is assigned (i.e. given ownership to) the patent application. The stock in the company is accepted as a form of payment for the patent drafting or prosecution legal services.
Many state bars in the United States do request or suggest lawyers licensed in a state to provide "pro-bono" / free legal services each year as part of their ethical obligations as a licensed lawyer. I currently do not offer "pro-bono" legal services for patents, but usually, many large law firms who have more than 50 plus lawyers, will often offer "pro-bono" legal services for patents.
While my law firm and I usually do not offer FREE / "pro-bono" legal services [we are a law firm of under 15 lawyers], I have found some good resources for the U.S. inventor / start-up company looking for U.S. law firms and/or law schools who do offer such free services. These resources are also great for other U.S. patent lawyers/patent agents who receive calls from potential clients who would like someone to draft their patent application for pro-bono (i.e. for free).
U.S. Patent lawyers and patent/agents can refer these type of "request for free legal service" calls to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) website. The USPTO website has some great info on pro-bono legal support for patents organized by each state of the United States. See the following hypertext link that you can paste into your Internet Browser [https://www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/patents-help/resources-state ].
But inventors/entrepreneurs beware, most programs in each state usually have some income qualifiers and/or other requirements that you may need to fulfill before you are paired with a lawyer and/or law firm who may consider to take your case pro-bono. Good luck inventors!