February 08, 2012

Patents for Humanity

US Patent and Trademark Office

David Kappos is the Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). On Wednesday, USPTO announced the Patents for Humanity pilot program, which rewards patent owners for using their patented technology to address humanitarian needs, including global health and medical technologies. The program was announced at a White House event on innovation for international development. This post originally appeared on the USPTO blog.

Sweeping revolutions in technology continue to fundamentally redefine the way we connect with one another and interact with the world. Today, an entrepreneur can do business with a remote village across an ocean just as quickly as a student in Boston can video-conference with a professor in Beijing. Political rallies can be organized by the click of a button, while gripping images of that rally can be shared across continents with a single tweet.

And while an ever-shrinking and increasingly interconnected world allows technologies and information to spread in unprecedented ways, it also reminds us of the unique challenges we face as a planet. That’s why the United States Patent and Trademark Office, during a global development event today at the White House, announced the Patents for Humanity pilot program. Because while 21st century challenges are global in scope, so too are their solutions.

By building smarter irrigation systems in towns plagued by drought, by delivering cost-effective medicinal vaccines to communities without hospitals, and by engineering weather-resistant crop strains to farms ravaged by natural disasters, patented inventions have the power to create lasting solutions for some of the most serious issues confronting the world’s poorest and underserved regions. By offering strong incentives for businesses of all sizes to engage in these humanitarian efforts, Patents for Humanity encourages up to 1,000 applicants to demonstrate how their patented, or patent-pending technologies, are advancing research and results in four categories: Medical Technology, Food and Nutrition, Clean Technology, and Information Technology.

USPTO launched Patents for Humanity, a program to advance research and results that will address global challenges Photo: Evelyn Hockstein/PATH
USPTO is launching Patents for Humanity, a program to advance research and results that will address global challenges Photo: Evelyn Hockstein/PATH

Judges selected from academia for their expertise in these fields will review applications and recommend winners, and up to 50 awardees will receive certificates for accelerated patent processing at the USPTO—a powerful tool for helping businesses validate their technology and resolve investment decisions more quickly. Not only will the faster processing help technologists move solutions to the marketplace faster; it will also demonstrate that humanitarian endeavors and smart economic growth can work hand in hand.

By harnessing the power of science and technology with research and development, Patents for Humanity plays a key role in advancing President Obama’s global development agenda. By collaborating with parts of the world in ways unimaginable just a few years ago, and by unleashing broader prosperity in emerging economies, this important new USPTO initiative demonstrates that the power to innovate is the power to lead, by design and by solution.

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