epi becomes supporter of the Inventor Assistance Program (IAP)

P. Thomsen (CH)

The program

The Inventor Assistance Program (IAP), a WIPO initiative in cooperation with the World Economic Forum (the Forum), is the first global program of its kind. It aims at facilitating to spur innovation from the initial phases towards new and useful products and processes by helping under-resourced inventors and small-businesses in developing countries to obtain patent protection and therefore attract further financial or collaboration resources. The IAP aims at matchmaking eligible inventors and small businesses having limited financial means with patent attorneys, who provide pro bono legal assistance to secure patent protection for promising inventions. After a pilot phase in 3 countries (Colombia, Philippines and Morocco), the IAP was rolled-out globally with a ceremony at WIPO in Geneva on October 17, 2016. epi is one of the presently six supporters of the program. epi will play a role in promoting the program and helping to recruit Patent Attorneys who would be willing to provide their services in the framework of the IAP, in particular by assisting the inventors selected within the program to obtain patent protection in Europe for their invention..

How does it work?

Inventors or a small business resident in a participating developing country have to demonstrate a basic understanding of the patent system in order to apply to the IAP. This requirement is considered fulfilled if the inventor has already filed a patent application or has obtained the certificate of the online course for inventors available on the IAP webpage. Secondly, the applicants to the IAP need to prove that their income is below a certain threshold and that their invention meets some eligibility criteria adopted by national authorities of the countries where the IAP has been implemented. If those criteria are fulfilled, the invention shall be accepted into the program by the national Screening Board and the inventor will be matched by WIPO with a patent attorney among those who volunteered. The patent attorneys in the roaster managed by WIPO are considered having suitable skills since they need to be allowed to practice before their national patent office. The patent attorney works closely together with the inventor/applicant to draft patent applications and prosecute them up to grant. Whereas it is expected that the patent attorney's service is offered free-of-charge, the inventor/applicant still has to bear the expenses of official fees for filing and prosecuting a patent application. By participating in the program, pro bono attorneys provide a free kick-start to the use of the patent system for inventors and small businesses from developing countries. The precise scope of services provided under the IAP will be defined on a case-by-case basis, through agreement between the volunteer patent attorney and the applicant. Therefore, the scope of representation and the services offered may differ from one case to another.

How to participate as a pro bono patent attorney?

Most eligible inventors and small businesses will be supported by local patent attorneys from their countries of residence, whereas European Patent Attorneys will become essential whenever protection is sought for European countries. If you are interested in participating in the IAP as a European Patent Attorney, please contact epi via sadia.liebig@patentepi.org or treasurer@patentepi.org. Further information on the program can be found on the WIPO webpage http://www.wipo.int/iap/en . We will convey more details about the IAP in a future issue of epi information.

Inventor Assistance Program (IAP)