Inventor Assistance Program (IAP)

The Inventor Assistance Program (IAP), a WIPO initiative in cooperation with the World Economic Forum, is the first global program of its kind. It matches developing country inventors and small businesses with limited financial means with patent attorneys, who provide pro bono legal assistance to secure patent protection.

No direct financial assistance is provided. For information on any type of assistance or support related to out of pocket costs (e.g. search of the state of the art, claim drafting, filing fees, any other fess, legalization or translation of documents, etc.) please contact your national Technology Innovation Support Center (TISC) for information.

In the context of the IAP, WIPO does not provide legal advice or assistance. WIPO is an international intergovernmental organization which promotes cooperation among its member states to protect intellectual property worldwide and is therefore not entitled to advise private parties. The role of WIPO in this case is to facilitate the matchmaking of inventors with limited financial means and pro bono patent attorneys.

Still have questions about the Inventor Assistance Program? Read our full list of FAQs.

Video: IP experts talk about pro bono activities and the IAP.

Get involved

Inventors and attorneys resident in a participating country are invited to apply to the Inventor Assistance Program.

  • IAP Flyer PDF, IAP Flyer

Online course for inventors

WIPO has developed a dedicated online course to help first-time inventors decide whether their invention fulfills patentability requirements. If it does, they can work jointly with a pro bono patent attorney through the IAP.

Inventors

A patent is a powerful business tool, allowing inventors/companies to gain valuable exclusivity over a new product or process. In developing countries however, few local inventors venture into the world of patents and those who do so without legal support often fail at the first steps due to formal errors. Through the Inventor Assistance Program, inventors working in any technological field can benefit from expert support to help them access and potentially profit from the patent system.

Check whether you country of residence is currently participating in the IAP. If it is, then the first step is to go to a Technology Innovation Support Center (TISC) in your country to request further information or submit an application.

To qualify for support, you must satisfy four criteria:

  1. Basic knowledge of the patent system: You must be able to demonstrate a basic knowledge of the patent system. You can do this in one of two ways:
  2. Income level: Your income must be below the threshold determined by the country in question.
  3. Eligible invention: You must have an invention that qualifies for IAP. Decisions on the eligibility of inventions are taken by the IAP screening board of the country in question.
  4. Residence: You must be a resident in the country in which you make the request and that country must be a participant in the IAP.

Download an IAP application form PDF,  IAP inventor application form

Pro bono attorneys

By participating in the program, pro bono attorneys provide a free kick-start to the use and development of the patent system in developing countries. Their work helps spur innovation at the grassroots level and also allows them to develop their professional skills in new, rewarding ways.

Attorneys involved with the IAP offer legal services free-of-charge. These services may include:

  • Preparation or filing of a patent application.
  • Help with the patent application process.
  • Correspondence with the patent office.
  • Liaising with foreign patent attorneys in the case of international applications.

Volunteer attorneys are not expected to conduct prior art searching, perform a freedom to operate analysis, or assist with licensing, transfer, presenting oppositions to third party applications, enforcement, litigation or disputes.

The first step is to check whether your country of residence is currently participating in the IAP.

If it is, then simply complete the online application form and we will get back to you.

Please note that only attorneys who are licensed to practice by the industrial property office of the country concerned and who accept in writing the guiding principles PDF, Guiding_Principles_-__Inventor_Assistance_Program of the IAP are eligible to apply.

If you are an attorney practicing in Japan, the European Union, or the USA and would like to learn more about participating in the IAP, please contact us.

In depth

Participating countries

After a pilot phase in three countries (Colombia, Morocco and the Philippines), the IAP is now officially part of WIPO programs.

WIPO's role

WIPO's role includes guiding Technology and Innovation Support Centers (TISCs) in their task of screening and evaluating applicants. WIPO is also responsible for the roster of pro bono patent attorneys and database management.

Structure and membership

The IAP is composed of countries, sponsors, and pro bono patent attorneys. These three groups all constitute IAP members. All members must accept in writing the guiding principles PDF, Guiding_Principles_-__Inventor_Assistance_Program of the program. For more details on how countries and sponsors can become involved, consult our FAQs

The central governance body of the IAP is the Steering Committee, which provides overall strategic direction, guidance and support.

Sponsors

Corporations, law firms, associations of IP professionals, as well as other institutions working in the field of IP, are invited to join the IAP as sponsors.

In general sponsors contribute by promoting the IAP to their internal networks of preferred firms, and seek to recruit qualified counsel from these firms to serve as IAP pro bono patent attorneys. Sponsor contributions can also be determined on a case-by-case basis with the IAP Steering Committee.

Seminars and events

We organize seminars on pro bono activities related to innovation. They are designed to promote discussion of how pro bono can function as a tool to facilitate access to the patent system.

Our seminars are ideal for government officials, patent attorneys, inventors and civil society in general. We also participate in relevant events organized by IGOs, NGOs and member states in order to promote the importance of pro bono activities in the area of patents.