October 2016 saw the launch of not just one, but two different Pro Bono schemes aimed at supporting innovators.

“IP Pro Bono” provides IP advice and legal support for individuals and small businesses involved in IP disputes in the UK, who could not otherwise afford to meet the costs of professional representation.  The relevant IP right may be a patent, trade mark, protected design or copyright.  The service is in principle available to those who want to make a complaint (claimant), as well as those who have received a complaint against them (defendant), and there is an emphasis on mediation.

IP Pro Bono is a UK scheme by Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) – which manages the scheme, the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (ITMA), the Intellectual Property Lawyers’ Association (IPLA), the IP Bar and the Law Society.

It is important to appreciate that this scheme does not include any advice or assistance regarding obtaining IP rights.  More information can be found at the link below.

A separate scheme, the “Inventor Assistance Program” (IAP), was launched by the World Intellectual Property Organization to help inventors in developing countries to get patent protection for their inventions.   The aim is to foster innovation in developing countries by reducing the financial barriers for obtaining patent protection.

The program matches inventors who cannot afford the services of a patent attorney with patent attorneys willing to work pro bono.  The services offered may include the drafting and/or filing of a patent application, and/or help with the prosecution of a patent application.

More information can be found in the FAQ section at

IAP Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) (wipo.int)


“This service has been designed to help small businesses and individuals who are involved in a dispute about an intellectual property right such as a patent, trade mark, protected design or copyright.”