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IP Cases & Commentary – Details

2 April 2012

USPTO Competition - Patents for Humanity

Cathrine McGowan

In addition to awarding patents, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will soon be awarding prizes. The ’Patents for Humanity‘ program was announced in February, and is a competition intended to reward patent owners who use their patented technology to address humanitarian issues. Entrants are required to submit an explanation of how they have applied their technology to improve the lot of impoverished and underserved populations, either by direct use of the technology or by research. Naturally, the technology must be the subject of a US patent or patent application.

The competition organisers are seeking entries in four categories: medical technology, food and nutrition, clean technology, and information technology. The USPTO has mentioned medical diagnostics, water sterilisation, mosquito control and land mine detection as examples of eligible inventions, and are encouraging businesses of all varieties to enter. The competition is open until the end of August 2012, and will be judged during September to December 2012. The USPTO has not yet named the judges, but has made it known that they will be drawn from academia.

Each winner will be awarded a prize in the form of an ’acceleration certificate‘ which they can redeem at the USPTO to speed up the processing of a patent or application which is not related to their competition entry. Up to 50 winners are to be selected from the first 1000 entrants. The competition has been launched as a pilot program, suggesting that it will run again in future years if the 2012 contest is a success.

We would be delighted to hear from any of our readers who have entered, or who are contemplating entering the competition!


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