Free Legal Aid For Budding Inventors Who Could Be Silicon Valley’s Next Millionaires

By Tracey Kaplan
San Jose Mercury News.


You’ve heard of free legal aid for the poor. Now comes free legal aid for future Silicon Valley millionaires.

Budding inventors and entrepreneurs whose dreams are bigger than their wallets — and who can’t afford the thousands in legal fees it costs to work up a patent or trademark application — will soon be able to get no-cost legal assistance from leading intellectual property lawyers at Lincoln Law School of San Jose and their eager-beaver students.

Starting in October, the school will welcome any khaki-clad engineer or Steve Jobs wannabe working on the next big thing.

The clinic will be run pro bono by the nonprofit law school and will be one of four in California, and the only one of its kind north of Los Angeles.

The government, which vetted Lincoln’s 475-page proposal but is not paying for it, has a lofty aim for the program, which includes 47 other law schools around the country: to stimulate the economy by helping the less affluent take their ideas from the drawing board to the marketplace.

But Lincoln’s dean acknowledges there may also be a side benefit to helping the future Steve Jobses and Larry Pages of the world become fabulously rich.

“If someone becomes a millionaire, first I’d say, ‘Congratulations,’ ” said Lincoln’s dean, Joseph Moless. “Then I’d say, ‘Remember your roots, and donate to the law school.’ ”

The clinic’s confidential services are expected to be in high demand. One out of eight registered patents is born in Silicon Valley, the nation’s top patent incubator.

Clients can expect advice from clinic law students regarding their intellectual property needs under the supervision of a faculty practitioner; assistance in drafting, researching and filing applications; and representation before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Budding entrepreneurs also can get an evaluation of their ideas and an analysis of any obstacles to obtaining a patent.

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