The Inventor Assistance Program

The Inventor Assistance Program (IAP) is an innovative program administered by World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), aimed at making the patent system more accessible to financially under resourced inventors. The IAP is open to individual inventors and/or Small and Medium Enterprises (SME), who have novel inventions that have market applications, who are not able to bear the costs of consulting a patent attorney to obtain patent protection for their invention. The inventor and/or SMEs must apply to participate in the Program and must meet the eligibility criteria set out below.

The patent attorneys who participate in the IAP volunteer their time and expertise on a pro bono basis, and are registered with WIPO as pro bono attorneys for the Program. The IAP patent attorneys provide patent consultancy related services to individuals/SMEs to protect their inventions.

Goal of the Program

The principal goal of IAP is to provide inventors with the support, knowledge, tools and resources they need to file complete applications, undergo substantive examination and ultimately enjoy benefits of a duly issued patent. IAP is opened to those qualifying countries, entities and individuals who upon accepting guiding principles of the program become members of the program.

Currently, pilot projects of IAP have been implemented in:

  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Morocco
  • Philippines
  • South Africa

South Africa was the fourth country to join the IAP. CIPC coordinates the program locally with the assistance of the National Intellectual Property Management Office.

Eligibility Criteria

1. The applicant can demonstrate a basic knowledge of the patent system by completing the module below:

2. The applicant is an individual or SME that is either:

  • A person earning less than R 30 000 per month after tax, or
  • An enterprise with an annual turnover of less than R5 million.

3. The invention concerned:

  • On face value meets, the criteria for patentability and
  • Has prospects for commercial success.
How can you participate in the program?

For Inventors

1)     Please use the WIPO link below to apply online:

2)     The application will be assessed by the screening committee, which will in turn give recommendations to WIPO concerning the application.

3)     If applicant is successful; WIPO will then pair the inventor with a Pro bono Attorney.

4)     Outcome is communicated to the  applicant


For Pro Bono Attorneys

Complete the online application form on the link below and WIPO will get back to you with further details.

Screening Committee

The screening committee will review all applications to determine whether the applications meet the illegibility criteria.

The screening committee is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the IAP, comprises of representatives of the:

  • Department of Trade and Industry (the dti);
  • the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC),
  • the National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO),
  • the Small Enterprise Development Agency, Incubation (SEDA),
  • the SEDA Technology Transfer Fund,
  • the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA); and
  • the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA).

Screening Committee Scheduled meetings for the year 2021

SC Meeting                           



1st meeting 13 January 2021 10:00 – 13: 00
2nd meeting 16 March 2021 10:00 – 13: 00
3rd meeting 12 May 2021 10:00 – 13: 00
4th  meeting 14 July 2021 10:00 – 13: 00
5th meeting 22 September 2021 10:00 – 13: 00
6th meeting 10 November 2021 10:00 – 13: 00

Application forms for the Inventor Assistance Program