Filing a patent application on your own

Pro Se Assistance Program

The patent process is a complex set of laws, regulations, policies and procedures; therefore, the USPTO always recommends using a registered patent attorney or agent to assist in preparing your application. The USPTO also recognizes that the cost of legal assistance is prohibitive for many applicants, particularly independent inventors and small businesses. The Pro Se Assistance Program is dedicated to help independent inventors and small businesses meet their goal of protecting valuable intellectual property.

The Pro Se Assistance Program provides outreach and education to applicants (also known as "pro se" applicants) who file patent applications without the assistance of a registered patent attorney or agent. USPTO employees cannot give legal advice. However, through increased assistance and resources for independent inventor and small business communities, the program aims to increase the quality of pro se applications and assist pro se applicants with making informed decisions regarding their patent applications.

Why is educating yourself about intellectual property protection important?

Intellectual property protection is critical to safeguard products and services from imitation, attract and secure funding from outside investors and promote the overall commercial success of any enterprise. In addition, the value of a patent is largely dependent upon skilled preparation and prosecution. Educating yourself is an important first step to develop an intellectual property strategy that can yield substantial economic benefits for your company and endeavors.

Patent process training

To assist applicants at all stages of the patent examination process the Office of Innovation Development (OID) also provides ongoing education:

 

Pro se resources

The following listings of resources are not exhaustive of all the educational materials available to pro se applicants on www.uspto.gov, but provides consolidated access to educational information addressing common questions received from applicants at various stages of the patent examination process.

 

Contact pro se assistance

For general inquiries, questions about your application, or other pro se matters, the Pro Se Assistance Program can be contacted in a variety of ways:

Email: innovationdevelopment@uspto.gov

Toll free phone number: 1-866-767-3848

Post mail:
Pro Se Assistance, Mail Stop 24
P.O. Box 1450
Alexandria, Virginia 22313-1450

One-on-one assistance (by appointment):
One-on-one assistance is available via video conference (WebEx) or telephone. Pro se personnel are available to meet with applicants to answer questions and assist in filing their applications. Inventors may take advantage of one-on-one assistance by contacting the OID to schedule an appointment; use the below information to phone, email, or click the appointment button below:

For an appointment:
Please call 1-866-767-3848 or email innovationdevelopment@uspto.gov.

Schedule an appointment

Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., ET Monday-Friday
The Pro Se Assistance Program is closed on federal holidays.

Note: The Pro Se Assistance Program will not be accepting appointments during federal holidays, including the day after Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas, nor during mandatory building closures due to inclement weather. 

Physical address and building access: 
600 Dulany Street 
Alexandria, Virginia, 22313

In-person visitors will need to enter the main Madison Building and proceed to the security desk on the first floor of the west wing and request access. You will need a valid form of photo identification that complies with the REAL ID Act. Important note: not all state-issued driver's licenses or identification cards comply with the REAL ID Act.

For more information, see our visitor access information page.

Additional contact information:
Other assistance centers and web pages, such as Office of Petitions, Electronic Business Center and PCT applications are available to applicants and can be found at contacts for application questions.