USPTO Launches Patents for Humanity Pilot

by Brian Fletcher on February 15, 2012

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently announced the Patents for Humanity pilot program that rewards patent owners for using their patented technology to address humanitarian needs. This 12-month pilot advances the President’s global development agenda by rewarding companies who bring life-saving technologies to underserved regions of the world, and by highlighting positive examples of humanitarian actions that are compatible with business interests and strong patent rights.

“Sweeping revolutions in technology remind us of what the innovative drive and entrepreneurial spirit can do to build a better world,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos. “This pilot program underscores that in the face of some of the most daunting challenges humans confront on this planet, the power to innovate is the power to lead by design and by solution.”

The pilot will be run as a prize competition for applicants that have leveraged their patented technology to significantly address public health or quality of life issues faced by an impoverished population. By demonstrating how they have contributed a patented technology to advance scientific research on neglected humanitarian issues, organizations will be awarded with a certificate of faster patenting processing in matters before the USPTO.

Judges will be selected from academia for their expertise in medicine, law, science, engineering, public policy, or a related field—and will evaluate applications in four categories: Medical, Food and Nutrition, Clean Technology, and Information Technology. Types of technologies eligible for consideration within the program will work to confront global challenges including life-saving medical diagnostic equipment, water sterilization devices, mosquito control, and land mine detection, among others.

Winners will receive an acceleration certificate which may be used to: move a “patent re-examination proceeding” to the front of the queue; move a patent appeal case in front of the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI) to the front of the queue; or accelerate the examination of a patent to ensure a final decision on the application within 12 months. Certificate holders may redeem their certificate to accelerate any one matter in their portfolio not related to the subject of the humanitarian program application.

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A similar program, the USPTO’s Green Technology Pilot Program, has been extended until March 30, 2012, or the date that 3,500 applications have been accorded special status under this program.

{ 1 comment }

patent litigation February 26, 2012 at 7:09 pm

I had feared that the patent office’s elimination of its green-tech fast-track program indicated a decreased commitment to humanitarian and forward-looking initiatives. The Patents for Humanity programs reassures me at least somewhat that the administration has not completely abandoned these aims.

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