Before submitting an application to the Georgia PATENTS program, you must read all the information below. Failure to meet the required standards will result in non-admission to the program.
Additionally, placement with a volunteer patent practitioner is at the sole discretion of the program administrator. Failure to be kind, courteous, and respectful to Georgia Lawyers for the Arts staff, Georgia PATENTS staff, or a volunteer patent practitioner will result in expulsion from the program and/or denial of future services from Georgia Lawyers for the Arts and Georgia PATENTS.
Qualifications for Inventor(s)
Georgia PATENTS supports solo inventors, non-profits, and small businesses. Each category of applicant has different requirements to qualify for assistance from our organization, but each typically has to show:
- Number of Inventors;
- Ownership Interest; and
- Number of Patents Previously Filed.
Solo Inventors Qualifications
To qualify as a Solo Inventor:
- Number of Inventors: there must be 1 known inventor for the invention;
- Residency: the inventor must reside in Georgia or South Carolina;
- Income: the inventor must have a total household income of less than 300% of the federal poverty guidelines;
- Ownership Interest: the inventor must not be under an obligation to assign (sell or give ownership of) the patent rights to a third party; and
- Number of Patents Previously Filed: the inventor must not have filed 4 or more patent applications with the United States Patent & Trademark Office.
To qualify as a Non-Profit:
- Number of Inventors: there must be no greater than 4 known inventors of the invention;
- Assignment to Organization: each inventor must agree to assign his/her rights to the non-profit;
- Type of Non-Profit: the non-profit must not be research institutions or institutions of higher learning;
- Residency: the non-profit must be a domestic corporation with 501(c)(3) status established in either Georgia or South Carolina;
- Income: the non-profit must have a budget of less than $1 million dollars per year; and
- Ownership Interest: the non-profit must not be under an obligation to assign (sell or give ownership of) the patent rights to a third party.
Small Business / Inventor Group Qualifications
To qualify as a Small Business / Inventor Group:
- Number of Inventors: there must be no more than 4 known inventors for the invention;
- Assignment to Organization: each inventor must agree to assign his/her rights to the business;
- Qualify Individually:
- Individual Residency: each inventor must reside in Georgia or South Carolina;
- Individual Income: each inventor must have a total household income of less than 300% of the federal poverty guidelines;
- Individual Number of Patents Previously Filed: each inventor must not have filed 4 or more patent applications with the United States Patent & Trademark Office;
- Previous Year Business Income: if the business was operating in the preceding calendar year, the business must have had a total gross income of less than $150,000;
- Projected Business Income: the business must expect a total gross income of less than $150,000 in the current calendar year; and
- Ownership Interest: the business must not be under an obligation to assign (sell or give ownership of) the patent rights to a third party.
The Invention Must be Patent Eligible
What are Patent Eligible Inventions? Inventions are a “process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof,” an ” ornamental design for an article of manufacture,” or an asexually reproduced “plant, including cultivated sports, mutants, hybrids, and newly found seedlings, other than a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state.” These inventions qualify for Georgia PATENTS.
What are Not Patent Eligible Inventions? Some inventions may not qualify for a patent. Typically, these are products of nature, abstract ideas, laws of nature, natural phenomenon, business methods, and inventions that do not follow the laws of thermodynamics. Examples include: “Methods of detecting fraud in a credit card transaction”, “Methods and investment instruments for performing tax-deferred real estate exhanges”, “Antenatal screening for Down’s syndrome,” “Cloned mammals produced by somatic cell nuclear transfer” (note: the cloned mammal cannot be patented, but a process of cloning might be patent eligible), and “Lipid-Containing compositions and methods of use thereof”, and perpetual-motion / cold-fusion devices. These inventions DO NOT qualify for Georgia PATENTS.
Also, Other Things That are Not Patent Eligible Include: Brands, business names, artwork, trademarks, t-shirt designs, board games, recipes, and so much more. These DO NOT qualify for Georgia PATENTS.
If you are seeking assistance with one of not patent eligible topics, please reach out to Georgia Lawyers for the Arts or go to https://glarts.org.
Invention Must be Reduced to Practice
The concept or invention must be “reduced to practice” to qualify for Georgia PATENTS. In the most simple terms, this means the inventor must have a physical manifestation of the invention. Specifically, Georgia PATENTS requires inventors to either:
- Create a working prototype; or
- Describe the invention in sufficient detail such that a person with ordinary skill in the relevant field could Make and Use the Invention without any outside assistance.
We require a reduction to practice to ensure that inventors have a definite and permanent manifestation of an invention instead of merely an idea. An idea becomes a definite and permanent manifestation when the inventor has a specific, settled idea or a particular solution to the problem at hand. A general goal or research plan the inventor hopes to pursue is not a definite and permanent manifestation of an invention and therefore does not qualify for the program.
Inventor Must Not Have Disclosed the Invention Greater Than 10 Months Ago
There are many rules to obtain a patent in the United States. One such rule is if an inventor discloses his/her invention publicly then the inventor has one (1) year from the date of the disclosure to file a patent application for the invention. Failure to file within the one (1) year of first disclosure results in the inability of the inventor to obtain a patent for the invention.
To protect our patent attorneys/agents from having very little time to properly draft and file a patent application, we require inventors to provide at least 2 months to our attorneys/agents to timely file. This means any inventor, having disclosed greater than 10 months prior to the current date, will not and cannot be placed with a pro bono patent attorney/agent through Georgia PATENTS.
Inventor Must Have a Good-Faith Belief that the Invention is Novel and Non-obvious
Inventor must have a good-faith belief that:
- The inventor was the first to invent or discover the invention or improvement;
- The invention or improvement must not be patented by another, described in a printed publication by another, in public use by another, on sale by another, or otherwise made available to the public by another; and
- A person having ordinary skill in the art would not know how to make and use the invention based on the simple combination of prior art references.
Prior to an intake or being placed with a patent attorney, each inventor must participate in an approved patent training seminar or demonstrate he/she has been a named inventor on another patent. Additionally, inventors must conduct a prior art search and find at least 3 relevant prior art references prior to an intake meeting.
Required Patent Training
GA PATENTS occasionally offers “Patent 101” training sessions that fulfill the training requirement. Check our Events schedule for any “Patent 101” training sessions. Alternatively, inventors may participate in the USPTO’s online patent training module (En Español), print out (or take a picture of) the final completion certificate, and bring it to the scheduled intake.
ALL inventors who are going to be listed on the patent must either:
- already be listed on another patent or pending application;
- attend an approved training seminar; or
- complete the USPTO online training module.
Required Prior Art Search
This is a mandatory requirement for this program. Take your prior art search seriously.
What is Prior Art? “Prior Art” encompasses all existing information, knowledge, and references existing anywhere in the world prior to filing a patent. Of course, not all prior art matters. When patent agents and attorneys talk about “prior art,” they are referring to the following, in relation to your particular invention:
- Prior Patents (U.S. or Foreign);
- Published Articles;
- Public Demonstrations; and
- Other Public Disclosures (including products for sale anywhere in the world).
There is always prior art out there. We do not accept, “there is nothing like my invention out there” as an appropriate response to our request for a prior art search. We are NOT asking you to find your exact invention. We are asking you to find similar inventions. If we were to ask you, “What is similar and different between the prior art reference and your invention,” you should be able to find at least 1 similarity and at least 1 difference between the reference and your intention. Example of an Appropriate Prior Art Search: If you invented an improvement to an umbrella which illuminates the ground when it is dark outside, you may reference a traditional umbrella, a traditional flashlight, and a light-sensor as prior art references for your invention. Please note, each of those references are valid prior art references, but no single reference discloses all the elements of your invention.
How do I search for Prior Art? A great place to start is to look through existing patents. You may do so on the USPTO’s website (PatFT & AppFT), the European Patent Office’s website (eSpaceNet), any one of several paid subscription services, or by using Google Patents. Another great place to start is a product search on Amazon, eBay, or Walmart. A well-done search should reveal similar inventions, including those inventions upon which your own invention likely relies. More importantly, the prior art search should help educate you, as the inventor, as to the current state of your particular field.
European? Why do I need to search that? The USPTO considers all prior art globally, not just applications, patents, and other descriptions from the United States. Many companies around the world file patents with the EPO, and many of these are in English, or translated into English. We recommend searching through applications and patents separately.
How can I get help with how to perform a prior art search? Luckily for us in Georgia, the USPTO has a resource center located on Georgia Tech’s campus! The Patent and Trademark Resource Center can teach you how to do an effective and efficient patent search. The library website has numerous tutorials, and the coordinator runs regular patent search classes throughout the year. After attending a class, the librarian may be available for individual consultation on an appointment basis.
You may call for information on upcoming classes by e-mailing email@example.com or calling 404-894-4500. The Georgia PATENTS program and GLA are not directly affiliated with the Patent and Trademark Resource Center, so if you are interested in consultation with the center, you must contact the center directly.
What about commercial searches? You may utilize the assistance of a commercial search company, but the results must be less than 3 months old, and we will need to see a copy of the contract with the search company to ensure you have not disclosed the invention or assigned patent rights.
Before starting your application, please make sure you:
- Have completed all of the previous steps.
- Have the name and e-mail address of each inventor.
- Collect financial information about each inventor and (if applicable) your business or non-profit.
- Collect basic information about your invention.
- Have information on previous patents/applications filed by each inventor. (if applicable)
Once you are ready to submit an application, please complete either the Solo Inventor Application or the Small Business/Non-Profit Application.
Which application do I use?
If you are the only inventor to be listed on the patent, click the Solo Inventor Application Button. If there will be 2 or more inventors listed on the application, click the Small Business/Non-Profit Application button.
What happens next?
Once you complete an application form, our staff will review your answers and contact you within a reasonable period of time. If you qualify for our program, we will send follow-up questions. Once you have answered the questions to our satisfaction, we will schedule an intake appointment for you. This appointment must attended in person.
If you do not qualify for our program, we will inform you of the reason and send you resources on filing pro se or acquiring assistance.
What is a reasonable period of time?
We attempt to contact applicants within 1 week. However, there are several periods of time during which you should expect application reviews to take longer:
- Christmas to New Years’
- Mid March
- Late April to Early May
- Early August to Late August
- Mid October to Late October
- Late November to Mid December
During these periods, our office is normally undergoing significant staffing changes, coinciding with the end of the law school semesters, has significant events for fundraising, or is closed for the holidays. We ask that you exercise patience if you apply directly before or during any of these periods.