New Trademarks for Humanity awards competition: Branding a better future
Blog by Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO
Brand owners are all around us. They include new entrepreneurs and established corporations, local charities and global nonprofits, elementary schools and renowned research universities, and many others. Often, their products and services improve and enrich our lives. Many are passionate about humanitarian causes and are working to help address global challenges.
With these important brand owners in mind, today the USPTO is launching the first-ever Trademarks for Humanity awards ceremony. The inaugural competition seeks to recognize those organizations or individuals who are trying to solve environmental challenges and to highlight the importance and value of their trademarks. We have had many years of success encouraging and supporting innovation with our various Patents for Humanity programs, and we are thrilled to create one for the trademark community. Many thanks to the Trademark Public Advisory Committee, including past Chair Susan Natland, for their ideas and collaboration on this new program.
The Trademarks for Humanity awards competition is an important way to encourage more individuals and businesses to join the effort to improve our environment and to recognize and celebrate those who are already working for change.
We are seeking a robust applicant pool, one that reflects the diverse spectrum of brand owners helping solve environmental challenges that impact all of humankind. We welcome and encourage applicants of all types, organizational structures, business focuses, geographic areas, and demographic backgrounds.
Anyone who owns a U.S. trademark registration of any kind—a trademark, service mark, certification mark, collective mark, or collective membership mark—and is using it in connection with products, services, or business practices that help improve the environment is eligible to apply.
All types of products, services, and business practices are eligible, too. Some examples include:
• Recycled or environmentally-friendly materials or practices;
• Work related to renewable energy, green technology, water purification, reforestation, capturing carbon emissions, or pollution reduction solutions;
• Renewable energy solutions licensed to others;
• A certification mark to encourage the use of environmentally-friendly standards or materials;
• Training services to educate and encourage the adoption of best environmental practices
Applicants will be asked to provide basic information about their registered marks and a narrative describing how they meet the following criteria:
• Subject matter: Are the goods, services, or business practices designed to improve the environment?
• Impact: To what extent do these efforts improve the environment?
• Creative solution: Do these efforts reflect a creative solution to an environmental problem?
• Character of the mark: Does the trademark creatively convey, or has it become associated with, the importance of a healthy environment or the need to improve the environment?
When the application period closes, independent judges will evaluate each entry using these criteria. Awardees will receive recognition for their humanitarian efforts at a public ceremony at the USPTO and will be featured on the USPTO’s website.
Every day, the devastating impacts of pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, climate change, and many other environmental crises become apparent. The USPTO is committed to supporting the Administration in finding solutions to these challenges and have launched many new initiatives to encourage more innovation in this space. In addition to this new Trademarks for Humanity award, notable programs include our Patents for Humanity Green Energy category, joint work-sharing program with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, expedited examination procedures through the Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program, and partnership with the World Intellectual Property Organization’s WIPO Green program.
Intellectual property protection is a critical incentive for creativity and innovation and a key driver of economic growth. It’s the bridge between a new idea and bringing that idea to market. The Trademarks for Humanity awards competition will celebrate those who harness the power of trademarks to bring products, services, and business practices to market that help make the world a safer and cleaner place.
To apply for the Trademarks for Humanity awards competition, or to learn more, visit the Trademarks for Humanity page of the USPTO website.