U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Kicks Off National Tour to Help Underrepresented Entrepreneurs

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Kicks Off National Tour to Help Underrepresented Entrepreneurs

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in an effort to provide assistance to under-resourced inventors and small businesses will kick off its national tour by hosting a two-day event in Minneapolis through its Patent Pro Bono Program. The free event, co-presented by the USPTO and the Patent Pro Bono Advisory Council a 501(c)(3), will focus on helping under-resourced inventors gather information on how to file patents, access funding and eventually create more jobs.

“By meeting people where they are with these free legal services, the USPTO is working to strengthen our innovation economy by making it more inclusive and equitable for all,” remarked Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and USPTO Director Kathi Vidal. “Pro bono counsel serves as a valuable bridge to the innovation economy by providing critical assistance to underrepresented inventors. For example, our data shows that while women make up about 13% of U.S. inventors, 43% of those who utilize our pro bono services identify as women, while 35% identify as African American or Black, 14% identify as Hispanic American, 5.7% as Asian American or Native Pacific Islander, and 1.5% as Native American.”

The events will take place March 8 and 9 at the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management and will recognize the 100th patent awarded in Minnesota as well as provide a day of information and networking about the Patent Pro Bono Program and how it can benefit under-resourced inventors.

The USPTO Patent Pro Bono Program launched ten years ago in Minnesota and is now in all 50 states and inspired a global program, the Inventor Assistance Program (IAP) facilitated by The World Intellectual Property Organization which operates in nine countries worldwide. The Minnesota program is facilitated through LegalCORPS, a nonprofit based in Minneapolis that provides free assistance in non-litigation business law matters to low-income inventors. Since the program started in Minnesota, the USPTO has awarded 100 patents to inventors represented through LegalCorps, a milestone that will be celebrated during the March 8th evening event.

USPTO and The Pro Bono Patent Program are working closely with Minneapolis companies and organizations on the March 8th and 9th events including Brown Venture Group, Launch Minnesota, Forge North, Bank of America, BETA and the University of Minnesota’s MN Cup.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to bring together our ecosystem to support under-represented inventors not only in our community but across the country,” said Paul Campbell, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Brown Venture Group. “By providing these essential services this program is ‘de-risking’ these inventors which will mean they are more likely to get funding and bring their ideas to fruition.”

Inventors interested in attending the free seminar on the 9th can sign up for the morning session here and the afternoon session here. The agenda is as follows:


9:00-9:15 am – Welcome

9:15-10:00am – Patents & Trademarks 101

10:00-10:10am – Break

10:10-11:10am – Free Legal Services: Patents

11:10-11:15am – Break

11:15am-12:15pm – Governmental Commercialization Services

12:30-1:45 pm – Lunch

1:45-3:00 pm – Panel Discussion + Q&A (Jessica Johnson-Cope, James Patterson, DJ Dozier, Girma Wolde Michael, Harvey Schabes, Warren Tuttle)

3:00-3:45 pm – Break Out Sessions

  • Working with Technology Transfer Offices: Harvey Schabes, NASA,Warren Tuttle, Open Innovation
  • Banking for Startups:Lucas Giambelluca, Bank of America, Karen Trouba, Bank of America, Jarrett Campbell, Bank of America, Rina Arline, Bank of America
  • Alternative Funding Sources: Mickayla Zinsli Rosard, Groove Capital, Dr. Michael Weatherly, Sports Innovation
  • Women Led Businesses & Startups: Jessica Johnson-Cope, Johnson Security Bureau
  • Scaling Your Startup: Michael A Jackson, Black Tech Talent, Neela Mollgaard, Launch MN

3:45-4:00 pm – Closing Remarks: Dr. Paul Campbell, Brown Venture Group

4:00-5:00 pm – Networking & Skill Sharing

Additional events will be announced in the near future.