The Inventor Assistance Program (IAP) – a WIPO initiative in cooperation with the World Economic Forum – is the first global program to match developing country inventors and small businesses with limited financial means with patent attorneys. These experts provide pro bono legal assistance to help inventors secure patent protection.
Through the IAP, pro bono attorneys and patent specialists can 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.
Patent attorneys and specialists in Europe, Japan, and the United States of America can also apply to the program to support inventors selected by the IAP with securing patent protection in those jurisdictions via the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
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 of the IAP are eligible to apply.
If you are from a jurisdiction other than the IAP participating countries, Europe, Japan or the U.S., we nevertheless encourage you to apply and we will let you know when the country in which you practice joins the IAP.
Inventors working in any technological field can benefit from expert support to help them use the patent system.
A patent allows 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.
WIPO has developed a dedicated online course to help first-time inventors decide whether their invention fulfills patentability requirements. The course is free of charge and anyone who wishes can take it.
For inventors without a pending patent application, passing the online course is a prerequisite for working jointly with a pro bono patent attorney through the IAP.
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 IAP guiding principles
The central governance body of the IAP is the Steering Committee, which provides overall strategic direction, guidance and support.
The Steering Committee is made up of representatives of all of the stakeholders involved in the IAP.
List of Steering Committee members
WIPO functions as a "clearing house" to coordinate and promote the IAP at the international level, including through the following activities:
Supporting member states with the implementation of the IAP
Managing the roster of pro-bono attorneys
Matchmaking pro-bono patent attorneys and specialists with selected inventors
Facilitating, together with the World Economic Forum, meetings of the Steering Committee
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.