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Monday Apr 27, 2020

Recognizing World IP Day

Blog by Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Andrei Iancu

World IP Day 2020

Twenty years ago, the World Intellectual Property Organization designated April 26 as World Intellectual Property Day to recognize the importance of innovation, creativity, and the positive role of intellectual property. “Innovate for a Green Future” is the theme for 2020’s World Intellectual Property Day, encouraging the world to build on “green tech” ideas to improve our health, well-being, and economy.

There is a long history of inventions that have enhanced our quality of life, from reducing air pollution to keeping food fresh. Consider the example of the catalytic converter. In response to studies about the growing dangers of smog in Los Angeles, French-American engineer Eugene Houdry pioneered catalytic converter devices for industrial factory smokestacks. He subsequently developed catalytic converters for gasoline engines. These devices convert pollutants from the exhaust gas into less toxic substances. Today, the device is standard on all American cars. In 1956, Houdry was awarded U.S. Patent No. 2,742,437 for Catalytic Structures. In 1990, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for Catalytic Cracking.

More recently, horticulturist Sylvia Blankenship and biochemist Edward Sisler developed a novel compound that significantly extends the freshness and storage life of fruits and vegetables by mitigating the effects of ethylene, which ripens produce. Their invention enables year-round access to fresh food and reduces food waste. This year, Blankenship and Sisler will be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for their invention, U.S. Patent No. 5,518,988 for 1-MCP for Fruit, Vegetable and Flower Freshness.

You can learn more about these inventors and other pioneers of technology through the National Inventors Hall of Fame inductee database.

The USPTO and IP communities are working together to empower inventors, entrepreneurs, and pioneers in the green tech space and beyond through Patents for Humanity, an annual awards competition recognizing innovators who use game-changing technology to meet global humanitarian challenges. The program provides business incentives for reaching those in need. Winners receive an acceleration certificate to expedite select proceedings at the USPTO as well as public recognition for their work. The awards showcase how patent holders with vision are pioneering innovative ways to provide affordable, scalable, and sustainable solutions to improve the human condition.

We currently live in the midst of a global pandemic. As always, inventors will create new technologies that will help us overcome these unprecedented challenges. On this World IP Day, please take a moment to recognize all inventors and entrepreneurs and to appreciate the innovations all around us that make our lives happier and healthier.

Please view our World IP Day 2020 video message.

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