The clearinghouse had a pilot soft start on 1 January. In its current form, the clearinghouse offers a host of practitioners in the US and Germany that can help with trademark issues. Eligible clients will be matched with an INTA attorney to help guide them.
The intended clients are low-income individuals and directors of non-profit or charitable organisations with low operating budgets that have no other option or don’t have access to legal advice in trademarks.
In an interview in June, Rick Biagi, chair of INTA’s pro bono committee, said that the focus on the US and Germany is part of the pilot programme. The plan is to offer pro bono services globally.
The pilot will run for two years to ensure the clearinghouse works as intended. The clearinghouse will then potentially be managed by INTA staff, with the committee remaining a part of it.
Biagi said in June: “The pro bono clearinghouse is the second step in that process: to have a stable of practitioners worldwide that can help with trademark issues.”
“A key element of that is getting the word out. But once it’s there, I really do believe that, in these situations where people go into business blindly without doing the proper searches, they could have a trained practitioner helping them clear a trademark and know if it’s infringing.”