INTA Hosts First Virtual Pro Bono Legal Clinic

Published: July 7, 2021

INTA’s Brands for a Better Society Committee, Pro Bono Subcommittee hosted its first-ever virtual Pro Bono Legal Clinic on June 15. Volunteer attorneys offered consultations on trademark clearance and prosecution on a pro bono basis to qualified brand owners from across Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America.

The Subcommittee successfully matched more than 30 individuals, not-for-profit and nonprofit organizations, and small- to medium-sized enterprises with INTA attorneys and other legal professionals. Attendees watched an introductory video on the top five times trademark owners should think about their trademarks before breaking into small groups for one-on-one conversations with the attorneys.

“The session was amazing, [the attorneys] were fantastic—very thorough,” said one participant. “Throughout the session, I was able to easily follow along and had the opportunity to ask questions. They walked me through the key factors to consider when selecting a [trademark] class and taught me about term categories, such as ‘descriptive’ and ‘suggestive.’ I now have an initial understanding of how both can affect the probability of an application being accepted by the examining attorney at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.”

INTA’s Pro Bono Subcommittee is dedicated to offering pro bono services across the globe. This clinic is hoped to be the first of many as the Association expands the international reach of its Pro Bono Clearinghouse. The inaugural event was designed to function like an in-person legal clinic where qualified applicants from anywhere in the world can consult with volunteer trademark attorneys free of charge.

The Pro Bono Clearinghouse matches eligible clients facing trademark issues with member attorneys who volunteer to provide services free of charge. It is the only program of its kind dedicated primarily to trademarks. The Clearinghouse is accepting client applications from anywhere in the world. It serves those in need and provides a unique opportunity for participating members to use their skills and work in the public interest in their field of expertise.

The immediate reaction of clinic participants was very positive, ranging from messages of gratitude and requests to join the next virtual clinic. Post-event surveys will be sent to all attendees for additional feedback. One participant called the pro bono attorneys “a bona fide bonus.” Exclaimed another: “I learned so much from the time I had with the advisers and now feel more than ever that I should invest in a trademark for my company name. Thanks for a great clinic!”

The clinic proved rewarding for the volunteer attorneys as well. As one noted, “It [was] very interesting and engaging. I am happy to participate in the future.”

The phrase “pro bono” is derived from the Latin phrase “pro bono publico,” meaning “for the public good.” At this event, INTA members demonstrated their commitment to the public good.

Read this interview of one client and attorney volunteer’s experience with the Pro Bono Clearinghouse. Find more resources and spotlights about participants in the Pro Bono Clearinghouse.

Special thanks to all Pro Bono Subcommittee members who took the lead on organizing this clinic.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of this article, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

© 2021 International Trademark Association