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Searchable FAQ
How do I update my account information?

Simply log in to your PatentConnect account and select the “Account” button located on the top of the page.

How do I deactivate my account?

To deactivate your account, contact the Admin

What are PatentConnect's Terms of Use?

1. All attorneys registering with PatentConnect must be licensed attorneys in the State of Indiana in good standing and registered US patent attorneys in good standing. If your status changes, you must promptly notify PatentConnect and any clients you are assisting through PatentConnect.
2. If you accept a client through PatentConnect's Matching Program, your services will be on a pro bono basis. Clients that you receive through PatentConnect's Marketplace should be served on a pro bono or discounted basis.
3. Clients accepted through PatentConnect are like any other clients. The Rules of Professional Conduct apply to your relationship with these clients including, but not limited to, keeping client information confidential, maintaining the attorney-client privilege, etc.
4. PatentConnect, Indiana University, the Indiana Maurer School of Law, the Center for Intellectual Property Research at the Indiana Maurer School of Law, their employees, volunteers, students, etc. are not responsible for any costs or fees incurred by inventors/clients, their agents, clients, etc. that use PatentConnect.
5. PatentConnect, Indiana University, the Indiana Maurer School of Law, and the Center for Intellectual Property Research at the Indiana Maurer School of Law do not provide malpractice insurance and are not liable for any of your actions or inactions.
6. Registration and access to PatentConnect may be denied, terminated, or otherwise cancelled at any time and for any reason.

Will my account be terminated if I refuse clients?

No. You are encouraged to take on as many or as few clients as your schedule allows.

Can I opt-out of non-essential emails?

There is no option to opt-out of certain emails. However, PatentConnect has a strict policy that limits the amount of non-essential emails (i.e., any email not involving a client connection). Currently, the internal policy at PatentConnect is to limit non-essential emails to no more than two per year.

I would prefer not to answer some of the questions in the registration form. Will this impact my ability to participate in this program?

You must enter all required fields to complete your registration. In fact, the form will not allow you to submit it without answering the required fields.

How secure is the information I am providing during registration?

PatentConnect will make every reasonable effort to secure all attorney information. One of the primary ways that we protect attorneys is to limit the data that we actually collect. All the information we collect is generally available publicly, which should assuage most security concerns. However, in order to enhance the security of your information, we strongly suggest you use a strong (i.e., mix of capital and lowercase characters, numbers, symbols) and unique password for your account.

Will PatentConnect ever sell my information?

No. PatentConnect is supported by the Center for Intellectual Property Research at the Indiana University Maurer School Law and the USPTO, and has no interest in or mechanism for commercialization.

Will prospective clients have access to attorney information before matching?

No. Inventors will not have access to any information about participating attorneys before being connected. PatentConnect places great importance on the ability of attorneys to take on pro bono clients at their convenience and without having to worry about unnecessary or unsolicited communications.

How will I be connected with pro bono clients through the Match program?

The Match program considers several factors—most notably the subject matter of the invention and attorneys’/agents’ technical background/area of practice. Other factors include the number and frequency of pro bono clients an attorney takes on (i.e., we try to connect inventors with attorneys that have not taken on a client recently) and whatever other factors that may be relevant to an inventor’s request.

I received an email that I have been connected with a pro bono client, what happens next?

Once you have been connected with an inventor and accepted that connection, PatentConnect’s role in the process is complete. After accepting a connection, we encourage you to get in contact with the inventor as soon as possible. The inventor will not be directly notified that you have accepted the connection. It is your responsibility to reach out to the inventor.

Can I refuse a connection?

Yes! You will never be required to take on a client. If you are connected with an inventor through the Matching program and do not not wish represent the inventor for any reason, you can simply refuse the connection. Refused connections are either connected with another attorney or placed on the Marketplace, so you should not feel obligated to accept a connection if you are unable to provide satisfactory services. There is no negative impact on your status with the program when you refuse a client. PatentConnect defers entirely to attorneys’ judgment in this area.

How many clients am I expected to take on every year?

The number of pro bono clients you take on is entirely up to you. This is another area in which PatentConnect defers to the discretion of our registered attorneys and agents.

Will the Match program connect me only with clients whose inventions fall within my practice area?

Yes. We strive to connect inventors only to attorneys who will be able to provide valuable services to them. Therefore we connect inventors to attorneys who have indicated that their practice includes the subject matter of the client;s inventions. However, we encourage attorneys to visit the Marketplace for unconnected clients. In the Marketplace you can look through inventor requests that have not been connected with an attorney and select any invention that you would feel comfortable prosecuting.

Will there be an opportunity to check for conflicts after I have been automatically connected with a client?

Yes. Once you have connected with a client you will be given five days to either accept or reject that connection. During that time - until you officially accept the client - they will remain off the market and on your Connect page

I have been connected with a client whose invention is beyond the scope of my practice area, how can I prevent this from happening again?

We suggest that you check and update (if necessary) the subject matter you listed when registering. You can do this by logging-in and selecting the Account button at the top of the screen. Although we do our best to connect attorneys to inventors whose invention is within the attorney’s preferred subject matter, inventors sometimes select an incorrect category or an invention may fall somewhere in between the categories in the registration form. This makes the connection process an imperfect one.

Can I opt-out of automatic connections temporarily for personal (e.g., vacation, maternity/paternity leave) or professional (e.g., heavy workload) reasons?

Currently there is no option for attorneys to opt-out of PatentConnect’s Matching program. If you receive a connection at a time you feel you will be unable to provide the required services, you can simply refuse that connection or do nothing (as all connections that are not accepted by the attorney within five days are automatically refused). If you feel that refusing a connection would still be too burdensome due to your circumstances, please contact the Admin

Once I have been connected with a client, will the client be given my information before I contact him/her?

No. The inventor will not be notified directly when an attorney accepts their request. You will be provided with the inventor’s information and then it is your responsibility to reach out to the inventor.

If I add a note to a client’s file – through the Status page – will they see it?

No. Only yourself and the Admin will see this information.

What is the Marketplace?

The Marketplace is a space for unconnected inventor requests. It allows attorneys to select an inventor at their convenience, and without our intervention. In addition to housing inventors that are part of the Matching program - that have yet to find a match - it also houses other inventors that might not otherwise receive assistance. To determine which programs they qualify for, simply click the Inventor tab.

Why is there a Marketplace if pro bono clients are connected to attorneys automatically?

The Marketplace serves two basic functions. First, it acts as a holding ground for inventors while we're trying to match them with the right attorney (i.e., those in the Matching Program). Second, it acts as a way for inventors that could not qualify for the Matching Program to seek help (e.g., they make too much money). To make things easy for you, we've color coded the inventor's program eligibility (found within the "Inventor" tab). If the eligibility header is green, then they have met all of the requirements for both programs. However, if the eligibility header is red, then they have only met the requirements for the Marketplace Program. To learn more about their qualifications, just click the tab marked Inventor. If these inventors also fail to meet your firm's requirements for pro bono services, you may offer to assist such clients using reduced rates, other alternative fee arrangements, or whatever billing arrangement you reach with the client.

If I register for an account, do I have to participate in the Matching program or can I just utilize the Marketplace?

Currently there is no way to opt out of the Matching program. While the Matching program is automatic, you are never under an obligation to accept a client. If you wish to only accept clients from the Marketplace, you are free to do so. However, we may automatically recommend a client for you from time to time. Simply reject the recommendation or ignore it.

Is there a limit to the number of clients I can take on from the Marketplace listings?

No! In fact we encourage you to take on as many pro bono clients as you can. Remember that clients in the Marketplace have not been connected with an attorney, so the Marketplace is the inventor’s last chance at securing pro bono assistance. Even taking on a single client from the Marketplace will make an tremendous difference.

If I select a client from the Marketplace, will I have an opportunity to perform a conflict check before beginning my representation?

After selecting an inventor request from the Marketplace, you will still have the same five-day window to perform conflict checks that you would have had after being connected through the Matching program. During that time - until you officially accept the client - they will remain off the market and on your Connect page

Can I refuse to service a client after accepting?

Once you have accepted a client, PatentConnect is no longer involved in the process and the regular standards of professional responsibility apply. If for some reason you feel you are no longer able to represent a client, and the client may still be eligible for pro bono services through PatentConnect, please contact the Admin

Where can I direct client inquiries if there are questions about the pro bono program?

Direct all client inquires regarding the program itself to the PatentConnect website. Like this Attorney Help page, there is a robust Inventor Help page that will provide answers to many common questions. Additionally, an inventor may contact the PatentConnect Admin through his or her personal account on the website.

Should I direct pro bono referrals to the PatentConnect website if I wish to take on that client?

Yes. We ask that you direct all inventor inquiries to the website. When submitting a new invention through PatentConnect, inventors will have the option of requesting an attorney with whom he or she has previously been connected. If they qualify for the Matching program, we'll see this information and connect you. However, you can also pull them directly out of the Marketplace yourself. If you cannot find them in the Marketplace, just contact the Admin and we’ll make sure the connection is formed in the system. It’s important that you direct these inventors into the system so that we have a record of all your hard work.

If I connect with a pro bono client through PatentConnect, what will be the expected scope of representation?

Pro bono services through PatentConnect will only extend to patent searching and prosecution. Even further, the USPTO’s ethics rules allow for patent attorneys to take on limited representation of low income inventors for a particular issue (i.e., drafting and filing a patent application does not mean you will have to continue to prosecute that application in front of the USPTO). PatentConnect stresses to inventors that the pro bono services provided through the program may only extend through filing of the final application (i.e., utility, design, or plant). The USPTO additionally recommends that you use an engagement letter to clearly define the boundaries of your representation. If you wish to extend the scope of your representation beyond what is expected by PatentConnect and the USPTO, you are free to do so at your own discretion.

Will pro bono clients expect representation to extend to office actions or any other legal matters beyond filing the initial patent?

See above question (Re: "If I connect with a pro bono client through PatentConnect, what will be the expected scope of representation?").

Who should I contact if I am forced to terminate my representation prior to completing my service?

Once you have accepted a client through PatentConnect, our role is complete. If you terminate your relationship with a client from PatentConnect, you are under no obligation to report that information to us. However, we would gladly accept any information about the relationship that you feel we should know.

If my pro bono client takes an action that affects his/her pro bono eligibility (e.g., assigns interest to a corporation, moves out of state), how does that affect my representation of that client?

If a client takes an action after matching, the decision on whether or not to continue the representation is solely within your discretion. If you discover that the client misled PatentConnect in order to obtain pro bono services, we would appreciate that you share that information with us by contacting our Admin However, the decision on whether or not to continue the representation is solely within your discretion.

If I discover that my client neglected to disclose information that would have disqualified him/her from receiving pro bono services, should I contact PatentConnect?

See above question ("Re: If my pro bono client takes an action that affects his/her pro bono eligibility (e.g., assigns interest to a corporation, moves out of state), how does that affect my representation of that client?").

Can PatentConnect offer any documentation that I participated in this pro bono program?

If you need (or want) any type of documentation that evidences your participation in the PatentConnect program, please contact the Admin We would be happy, to the best of our ability, to arrange for documentation that meets your needs.

What is PatentConnect? Who operates the website?

PatentConnect is a website that matches Indiana inventors needing pro bono patent services to Indiana lawyers willing to provide them. The website is operated by the Indiana University Maurer School of Law’s Center for Intellectual Property Research with support from the USPTO. However, PatentConnect is not exclusively affiliated with Indiana University or the Maurer School of Law. It is an effort intended to be inclusive of all Indiana residents (both inventors and attorneys) regardless of school affiliation.

How is PatentConnect affiliated with the USPTO?

PatentConnect was created with the authority and support of the USPTO in furtherance of its efforts to increase access to patent pro bono services. Section 32 of the Leahy-Smith Act (i.e., the America Invents Act) called on the USPTO to undertake this effort. In response, the USPTO has empowered each state to create its own patent hub for accomplishing this goal. PatentConnect is the State of Indiana’s contribution. However, the USPTO does not manage or operate the day-to-day functioning of PatentConnect.

What is the role of PatentConnect after I have accepted a pro bono client?

Once an attorney and inventor have been connected, PatentConnect’s role is complete. PatentConnect does not dictate how the relationship proceeds after a connection is accepted.

How can I contact PatentConnect directly?

Please look through this Help page and the USPTO’s FAQ section for attorneys before contacting PatentConnect directly. If you still have questions after reading both pages, feel free to contact the Admin using the link on your account page.

Where can I find more information about this program?

We suggest you visit the USPTO website for more information about the Office’s pro bono program. The following the links below will be a great start:

More Questions?

Use our contact form and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.