Patents for Humanity Program Helps Address Global Challenges

Washington,
April 12, 2013

An improved strain of sorghum fortified with more protein and vitamins; a fast, accurate tuberculosis diagnosis machine; and a system to identify counterfeit drugs with an ordinary cellphone are among the 10 winners of the Patents for Humanity pilot program of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the U.S. Department of Commerce says.Launched by the USPTO in February 2012 as part of an Obama administration initiative promoting innovations to solve long-standing development challenges, Patents for Humanity is a competition recognizing patent owners and licensees who address global challenges in health and standards of living.

“A strong patent system is crucial to supporting our continued economic growth, and its benefits don’t stop at our borders. Patented inventions are bringing longer, healthier, fuller lives to people across the globe,” said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank. “As part of the president’s global development agenda, the Patents for Humanity program is a great example of how American innovation is helping solve critical global challenges and creating prosperity in emerging economies.”

“As a global leader, the United States has a responsibility to take the initiative on humanitarian issues,” said U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy. “Programs like Patents for Humanity highlight how we can create incentives for researchers and businesses to use American innovation to address global humanitarian needs. I am pleased to reintroduce legislation to further strengthen this program, and I congratulate the award winners today.”

“The USPTO’s Patents for Humanity program is a wonderful example of President Obama’s transformative approach to development, and we’re thankful to the Patent and Trademark Office for this initiative,” said Gayle Smith, special assistant to the president and National Security Council senior director. “The winners of this competition show how the private sector, NGOs, universities and the U.S. government are working together to create solutions to infectious diseases, nutrition and safe drinking water.”

“Time and again history shows the profound impact that one good idea — patented and marketed — can have on human beings, our world and our way of life,” said Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Acting Director of the USPTO Teresa Stanek Rea. “I am particularly excited about the Patents for Humanity program, which encourages patent owners to use their technologies to benefit those who live in underdeveloped and underserved regions around the world.”

Entrants competed in four categories: medical technology, food and nutrition, clean technology and information technology. In addition to being recognized for their work, winners will receive accelerated processing of select matters at the USPTO. In January, the nonprofit Licensing Executives Society International (LESI) presented the 2012 National IP and Technology Transfer Policy Award to Patents for Humanity.

For more information on Patents for Humanity, including descriptions of the winning patents and selection criteria, visit the USPTO’s Web page on the program.