uspto.gov
Skip over navigation

Patents for Humanity Awards Presentation

Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for IP and Acting Director of the USPTO Teresa Stanek Rea

April 11, 2013

Dirksen Senate Office Building

Prepared Remarks

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. And as the world becomes increasingly connected, more and more industries are realizing that their technologies can improve lives everywhere. But the desire to help does not always translate into success. There are many hurdles to navigate, and many pitfalls to avoid. 

And there is no roadmap for delivering life-changing technologies to the remote corners of the world where they are needed most. Once again, we are at the forefront of new ways of doing business. New models are emerging that prove we can help the less fortunate without sacrificing commercial markets, and that the base of the pyramid presents new market opportunities for those with vision to pursue them. 

Just as a rising tide lifts all boats, we find that we can serve the underserved and raise standards of living through mutually beneficial arrangements. That was very much the spirit behind the Patents for Humanity program launched last February of 2012, to reward those who bring life-saving technologies to underserved regions of the world. And we could not be more pleased with the response this program has generated. Last year, we received more than 80 applications from those using patented technology to help the less fortunate. We saw applications from all types of entities from Fortune 500 companies, small and midsize companies to startups, universities, non-profits, and individual inventors. Clearly many patent owners care deeply about improving lives around the globe.

But it was not just the quantity that impressed us—it was the quality that was truly exceptional. There were far more applicants engaged in worthy pursuits than we could possibly recognize here today. Our stakeholder support was also unparalleled. Countless others volunteered their time and resources to support the program—including many here in this room. So, Patents for Humanity is more than just a USPTO program—it is an entire community dedicated to solving global challenges.

And while we created this program to give out awards, we even received an award ourselves—the 2012 Best National IP and Technology Transfer Policy award from the Licensing Executive Society International. The credit for that goes to our many supporters here today. I want to thank everyone who supported the program for helping us reach this moment. I applaud your efforts and encourage you to keep up the fantastic work. We thank Senator Leahy for his continued support of USPTO, and we look forward to continuing work to enable innovators striving to address dire, global humanitarian needs. Together we can continue to do great things.

Our winners here today truly embody the definition of the word diversity: in their organizations, in their technologies, and in their business models. We have three Fortune 500 companies, two midsize companies, and three small companies—two of which are essentially startups, created in the last five years. Their technologies cover a wide range of humanitarian issues.

From medicines for HIV and malaria, diagnostics for tuberculosis, and implants for broken bones—from better nutrition from staple crops like rice and sorghum—technologies to deliver clean water, solar lighting, and safe medications to remote areas—and tools to help researchers find better treatments for rampant diseases—our winners are working to make the world safer, healthier, and more productive. They truly showcase the American innovative spirit—the notion that anyone, anywhere really can make a difference.

And now I am proud to present the winners of the 2013 Patents for Humanity awards:

Gilead Sciences - for making HIV drugs available to the world's poor using a network of generics manufacturers in Asia and Africa. 

University of California, Berkeley - for developing research and license agreements to provide a lower-cost, more reliable way to produce anti-malarial compounds.

SIGN Fracture Care International - for distributing low-cost fracture implants to speed healing in developing world hospitals.

Becton Dickinson (BD) - for creating a fast, accurate Tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis machine and placing 300 systems in 22 high burden countries. 

DuPont Pioneer - for developing an improved strain of sorghum fortified with more protein and vitamins for use in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Intermark Partners Strategic Management LLP -  for extracting edible protein and vitamins from waste rice bran in Latin America. 

Procter and Gamble - for distributing a small chemical packet which removes impurities and contaminants from drinking water and has purified nearly 5 billion liters worldwide.

Nokero -  for delivering solar light bulbs and phone chargers for off-grid villages through local entrepreneurs. 

Sproxil, Inc. - for deploying a system to identify counterfeit drugs with an ordinary cell phone in sub-Saharan Africa.

Microsoft Corporation - for providing machine learning tools that allow health researchers to better analyze large data sets.

Congratulations to all of you for your amazing innovations and for these well-deserved awards. Your ground-breaking work is making a difference in the lives of millions. Thank you all for coming today, and my thanks to the Kaufmann Foundation for our reception. Enjoy!

#   #   #

United States Patent and Trademark Office
This page is owned by Office of the Chief Communications Officer.
Last Modified: 4/12/2013 1:38:00 PM