The United States Patent & Trademark Office has worked to set up a system of volunteers who can help inventors with legal assistance to file patent applications. In Missouri, the place to go for help is Gateway Venture Mentoring Service. Below is a blog post describing the nationwide network in more detail.
From the USPTO Director's blog:
Patent Pro Bono Volunteer Attorneys Assisting Inventors Across the Country
Guest blog by Commissioner for Patents Drew Hirshfeld and Deputy General Counsel William R. Covey
The USPTO has worked closely with intellectual property law associations to establish a network of independently operated regional Patent Pro Bono programs to provide under-resourced inventors and small businesses who lack the financial resources to file a patent application with legal assistance to secure protection for their inventions. Through these programs, those independent inventors and small businesses can connect with volunteer registered patent practitioners across the entire United States who can assist them with navigating the process for obtaining a patent.
Coverage of the Patent Pro Bono Program
Needless to say, volunteer patent practitioners are integral to the success of the Patent Pro Bono program, and we wish to thank them for their time and dedication. Participation requires a tremendous amount of commitment on the part of the volunteer patent practitioners, who are already heavily involved in the rigors of daily patent prosecution activities for their paying clients. The volunteer practitioners are tasked with the challenge of balancing their existing work load and providing the additional time needed to support and assist their pro bono clients. Even faced with these demanding constraints, to date, over 800 patent professionals have volunteered their availability, time and resources to help make the Patent Pro Bono Program a success. Read more about the inventors and entrepreneurs who have taken advantage of the program.
To encourage future participation in the program and to acknowledge those that have provided their services in support of the program, the USPTO is pleased to announce a Certificate Recognition Program for 2017. For those volunteer patent practitioners who report 50 or more hours of patent pro bono service in 2017 to their regional Patent Pro Bono Program administrators, the USPTO will provide them with a certificate recognizing their accomplishment and will add their names, with their consent, to the Patent Pro Bono Program page of the USPTO website.
Providing patent filing and prosecution services, pro bono, supports patent quality and ensures that no worthwhile invention is left unexamined due to lack of financial resources. For more information on participating or volunteering for the program, visit the Patent Pro Bono page of the USPTO website and click on your state to identify your regional program, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Through the Patent Pro Bono Program and the hard work of patent pro bono practitioners, we look forward to assisting even more independent inventors, entrepreneurs and small businesses in 2017.