From Idea to Invention, Thanks to Pro Bono

July 11, 2023

Ballard Spahr Patent Agent Sandra A. Sciascia-Zirger, Ph.D, was one of just six patent professionals recognized by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office in 2023 for providing 50 hours or more of pro bono service for five consecutive years.

Since the program’s inception in 2017, Dr. Sciascia-Zirger has provided at least 50 hours of service each year to the Georgia Pro Bono Assistance and Training for Entrepreneurs and New, Talented, Solo inventors (PATENTS) program, which matches Georgia and South Carolina inventors who meet income guidelines with patent attorneys and agents to help them pursue patents for their inventions free of charge.

“There are so many people out there who have great ideas and possible opportunities to start small businesses but are short on funding. It means a lot that I can step in and help them out,” Dr. Sciascia-Zirger said. “Most of the participants are individuals who don’t really have the means or patent knowledge to get going, but they have a really interesting idea.”

Dr. Sciascia-Zirger, whose background is in molecular genetics, said her participation in the program has helped her expand her knowledge base.

“For me, when I do my pro bono service, it’s rare that it’s in biological sciences, so a lot of times I get to branch out and do some different type of technology,” she said, adding that her pro bono service had given her the opportunity to work on mechanical and apparel inventions. “It’s a little different from my day-to-day, and for me, that’s fun. Earlier in my career, it helped me diversify, and I get to work with different types of inventors and different partners and professionals here at the firm.”

Dr. Sciascia-Zirger said she plans to continue working with the George PATENTS program for the foreseeable future.

“I think helping out the people who didn’t feel like they had a chance or opportunity get started is really important,” she said. “There are so many great ideas out there, and they should each get their chance.”

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