Alston & Bird has partnered with Georgia Lawyers for the Arts and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to launch Georgia PATENTS (Pro bono Assistance & Training for Entrepreneurs and New, Talented, Solo inventors). The program seeks to connect low-income inventors with pro bono patent lawyers.
Chris Lightner, senior associate in the firm’s Mechanical Patents Group, told Daily Report that it generally costs $8,000 to $12,000 in attorney fees to prepare and file a patent application.
“It’s a struggle for patent practitioners to use our skills and help out in the community,” said Lightner, who is representing “inventor zero,” the first applicant to be referred to a lawyer under the Georgia PATENTS program.
“It took us a long time to get where we are today,” said A. Shane Nichols, partner in the firm’s Intellectual Property Litigation Group.
One concern with starting the program was over potential conflicts between pro bono cases and existing firm clients, Nichols noted.
Having a nonprofit lead the program was a way to avoid conflict issues, so Cheryl Naja, Alston & Bird Director of Pro Bono and Community Service, asked Georgia Lawyers for the Arts to coordinate.
“Cheryl Naja is the reason we are here tonight,” Nichols said at the launch event.