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New public service program supports Delaware inventors


Widener University Delaware Law School launched a new, free public service today that will support innovation and creativity for people with the next ‘big invention.’ 

The school launched the Delaware Patent Pro Bono Program at an event attended by U.S. Sen. Chris Coons and officials with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The program, led by Professor Alan E. Garfield, will provide income-eligible Delaware inventors with free legal advice as they maneuver through the U.S. patent application process. It is a collaboration between the school and registered patent attorneys and agents, with assistance from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

“This is a winning program,” said Garfield, who is faculty advisor to the law school’s student Intellectual Property Society. “Our law students will have an opportunity to assist with the pro bono program, patent attorneys and agents will have an opportunity to use their expertise for pro bono work, and the free legal services will support innovation in Delaware.”

“While America’s robust patent protections have made possible countless innovations that we depend on today, many inventors will tell you that navigating the complex and arcane United States patent process is one of the more daunting chores in bringing an invention to market,” Sen. Coons added. “The launch of Delaware Law School’s ‘Delaware Patent Pro Bono Program’ is wonderful news for Delaware students and businesses, and will be a valuable asset for the dreamers and doers here in Delaware. Thanks to the leadership and vision of Law Dean Rod Smolla and Professor Garfield, and the efforts of established patent lawyers and volunteer students at the law school, budding Delaware inventors will soon be on the fast track to getting their innovations patented.”

A new web resource, unveiled at the launch, provides information for prospective inventor applicants, attorneys and agents interested in volunteering with the program, and law students who want to get involved. The resource is located on the law school’s website and can be found at  

To be eligible for services, inventors must be Delaware residents, meet income eligibility requirements, have a general knowledge of the patent system, and have an actual invention – not just an idea. The program is open to solo inventors and small businesses.

Registered patent attorneys James M. Lennon, a partner at Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP, and Joan T. Kluger, a partner at Barnes & Thornburg LLP, will serve as lead attorney volunteers for the program. They are seeking additional volunteers.

Widener University is a metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, applied leadership, and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience.  Its Delaware Law School is the First State’s only law school, providing juris doctor, legal graduate and paralegal degree programs with an emphasis on developing legal professionals who reflect the Delaware Way and its traditions of civility, integrity and mutual respect. The school offers signature programs in corporate and business law, environmental law, family health law and policy, and trial advocacy. Widener University is proud to be tobacco free. Visit for more information.