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April 02, 2014

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Press Release, 14-10

USPTO Renews Patents for Humanity Program

Program recognizes patent holders who address global development challenges

Washington – The U.S. Commerce Department’s United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced that Patents for Humanity is being renewed as an annual program. Started as a one-year pilot in 2012, the program recognizes businesses, inventors, non-profits, and universities who leverage their intellectual property portfolio to tackle global humanitarian challenges. The renewal was first announced on February 20 as part of the Obama administration’s ongoing commitment to strengthen the U.S. patent system.

"America's businesses are defined by our compassion as much as our entrepreneurial spirit," said Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Democracy and Development, National Security Staff. "Those who look not just to how to grow their businesses, but also to the good their innovations can do for the global community, should be applauded.  That's why Patents for Humanity is so significant: a highly successful program that uses business incentives to help reward firms that put cutting-edge, life-saving technologies into the hands of those who need them most — faster than ever before."

“The USPTO plays a crucial role in helping protect the cutting-edge ideas that drive our economy and keep the U.S. globally competitive,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “The Patents for Humanity program supports American businesses and inventors who are helping solve some of today’s toughest global challenges. The Commerce Department is committed to helping foster the innovation that protects and promotes our ideas-driven economy, which is essential to economic growth.”

“We are delighted that the groundbreaking Patents for Humanity initiative has been renewed, allowing the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to continue promoting the use of patented technology to aid the less fortunate,” said Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle Lee.

2013 Patents for Humanity pilot award winners pioneered innovative business models in frontier markets to deliver much-needed HIV medicine, create more nutritious food products for the poor, and deliver solar energy to off-grid villages, among others. Building on the success of the pilot, USPTO will institute an annual competition to reward entrepreneurs and innovators who deploy patented technologies to address global challenges in five categories that reflect the President's development agenda: medicine, nutrition, sanitation, household energy, and living standards.

"It was both thrilling and humbling to receive recognition by the USPTO program, and others, for devising strategies that can deliver global technological solutions to those in need," said Carol Mimura, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Intellectual Property & Industry Research Alliances for 2013 winner University of California, Berkeley. "The Patents for Humanity program illuminates and celebrates ways that IP rights can be used to produce pro-competitive activities, including investment in products that lack profit drivers."

"Since winning the award, we have received inquiries from potential clients and partners who were impressed by our innovation and the recognition from USPTO," remarked Meliza Anne Mitra, Global Business Coordinator for 2013 winner Sproxil, Inc. "It carries a lot of weight not only in the humanitarian space, but amongst engineers and industry players alike. The award has opened doors for us and helped to solidify greater brand awareness and reputation."

The USPTO expects to select about 10 winners this year who will receive public recognition and an acceleration certificate to expedite select proceedings at the USPTO. Honorable mentions will also be awarded with a more limited certificate to accelerate a patent application of the recipient's choosing. USPTO launched Patents for Humanity in February 2012 as part of an Obama administration initiative encouraging game-changing innovations to solve long-standing development challenges. In January 2013, Patents for Humanity received an award for Best National IP and Technology Transfer Policy of 2012 from Licensing Executives Society International (LESI), a leading non-profit that supports IP professionals.

For details on how to apply for a 2014 award, view the Federal Register notice here.  To learn more about the Patents for Humanity program, please visit www.uspto.gov/patentsforhumanity.

For non-press inquiries about Patents for Humanity, contact Edward Elliott at 571-272-7024 or edward.elliott@uspto.gov.

Stay current with the USPTO by subscribing to receive email updates at our Subscription Center at www.uspto.gov/subscribe.

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