Pro Bono Clearinghouse Expands into Latin America

Published: June 15, 2020

INTA’s Pro Bono Clearinghouse is expanding into Latin America. This follows a successful pilot program in the United States, which was subsequently opened to all qualifying attorneys in the U.S. earlier this year. This Clearinghouse Program is the only one currently in existence dedicated primarily to trademarks.

The Pro Bono Clearinghouse Program aims to bolster the protection of intellectual property by matching eligible clients facing trademark issues with INTA member attorneys who provide the legal services free of charge. The program serves low-income individuals, small to medium enterprises, and nonprofit or charitable organizations with low operating budgets (1) who might otherwise not know where to turn or (2) who do not have access to legal assistance in the area of trademarks.

INTA initiated the Clearinghouse as a pilot program in 2017, with only U.S. attorneys serving on the Pro Bono Committee (now part of the Brands for a Better Society Committee) eligible to handle cases. Based on its usage, the Association recently expanded the program to members who are licensed U.S. attorneys.

Now, INTA is moving into six Latin American countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico. Over 300 INTA members across these five countries have already signed up to participate in the program, following a call for volunteers earlier this month.

Joana de Mattos Siqueira, a partner at the Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, law firm Montaury Pimenta, Machado & Vieira de Mello, heralded the expansion to Latin America, stating, “I am delighted to see how this program is expanding and, at this time, reaching Latin America. It is an honor to volunteer and be able to assist those in need, sharing with them my IP skills in a way that would not be possible if INTA did not start this amazing project benefiting communities worldwide.”

Leticia Provedel, a senior partner at Souto Correa Advogados in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, added, “I’m extremely proud to be part of the launch of INTA’s Pro Bono Clearinghouse in Latin America and support the alignment of trademark practice with public good and the evolving necessity of making pro bono work become a part of the next generation’s educational experience.”

One of INTA’s core beliefs is that all consumers and businesses benefit when trademark rights are protected in a meaningful and consistent manner. The Pro Bono Clearinghouse allows INTA and its members to fulfill a commitment to the public interest in their field of expertise. Members who volunteer to be matched with clients will have a unique opportunity to stretch their skills and aid clients in need. The Clearinghouse Program provides opportunities for meaningful work benefiting the business and legal communities that are invested in trademark rights as well as the disadvantaged populations often served by non-profit pro bono clients.

The Brands for a Society Committee is working on expanding the program into other jurisdictions. The plan is to roll out similar programs around the world during this term, beginning with its expansion into Latin America.

A special thanks to the INTA members who helped make the Clearinghouse pilot program a success, including: Rick Biagi, Chris Bennett, Megan Bannigan, Alice Kelly, and Kate O’Rourke, Shyla Jones, Jeremy Spier, Scott Creasman, Kristin Cornuelle, Karen Kline, Jaime Vining, John Beard, Susan Neuberger Weller, Nathan Belzer, Rochelle Alpert, Mike McArthur, Anna Kuhn, Ann Fort, and Nicole Reifman.

How Can I Participate?

  • Please send potential clients here for more information on how to apply for the program.
  • To volunteer for the Clearinghouse, please email Stacey Sutton at [email protected].

Why Participate?

  • Protection of Trademarks: Provide full and fair access to the legal system to all. The program will bolster the protection of trademarks, regardless of financial means.
  • Assistance to Non-Profits: Many pro bono clients are small non-profit organizations whose underlying missions benefit a variety of disadvantaged or vulnerable populations.
  • Public Relations: INTA members will receive positive publicity that will enhance their reputations in the legal community.
  • Business Development: Experience confirms that relationships developed in connection with pro bono clients often lead to traditional fee-paying relationships in the future. Many companies also look for firms with a strong pro bono ethic.
  • Talent Recruitment & Retention: Offering pro bono opportunities is an important element for recruiting new talent and retaining excellent attorneys.
  • Training & Professional Development: Gain useful hands-on experience and valuable skills development. Pro bono work offers opportunities to train younger attorneys and allows experienced attorneys to develop expertise.
  • International Cooperation & Network Building: Pro bono work offers opportunities to work with colleagues from different countries, achieve versatility, and attain a broader understanding of issues beyond an attorney’s normal practice.

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

© 2020 International Trademark Association