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   exactly what are "pro bono" services?
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   Author  Topic: exactly what are "pro bono" services?  (Read 807 times)


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exactly what are "pro bono" services?
« on: Jul 10th, 2006, 10:12pm »
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when some lawyers/firms offer pro bono services, what does that mean? does it mean that they only give you free advice but you still have to pay the filing fees or does it mean that both are free?  because the forms you need to file are a lot of money from what i understand, several forms need to be filled out and that can cost you a ton.  i know it all depends on the lawyers' fees, but what tends to be more? the lawyer fees or the filing fees?
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Bill Richards
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Re: exactly what are "pro bono" services
« Reply #1 on: Jul 11th, 2006, 4:15am »
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"Pro bono" comes from "pro bono publico", or "for the public good".  It's a way for lawyers to help the community, especially those not in a position to afford their services.  Most, if not all, states have at least an aspirational goal that all lawyers help make legal services available to the public.  As you can see, it refers to the lawyers "services" and not expenses.  In some states, the lawyer is forbidden from using his own funds to pay for other expenses.
Lawyer fees tend to be more than filing fees.  Not always, but nearly always.
It's not the "forms" that need to be filled out, but, at least with a patent application, it's the application itself, including the claims, that takes the time.  This is hardly a "form-based" activity.
Having said all that, I know of only one instance where patent application services were provided pro bono.  A medical doctor was developing a new medical device and was donating all the revenue to charity.  The practitioner provided the legal services, but the doctor paid the filing fees, etc.  I'd like to hear from others on this Forum about their own pro bono activities.  (Note, that pro bono does not have to be patent work.  Some patent attorneys do other legal work, too, like handling a landlord-tenant problem for an indigent person.  I think that's a bit unusual, though.)
Some patent attorneys will do the work in exchange for royalties in the technology down the road.
But, that begs the question, "Why get a patent?"  What will you do with it when you have it?  Do you have a business plan to develop this into a profit-making venture?  Or, will you frame the patent document and hang it on the wall?  Going forward, the patent process is a small portion of the expense related to making a profitable venture.  You need to look at the big picture, including long-term financing.  A patent is not a license to make money, it's just a business asset that may give one an edge in the marketplace.  One of many assets that will be required in the long run.
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William B. Richards, P.E.
The Richards Law Firm
Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights
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