USPTO Launches Patents for Humanity Pilot Program

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has announced the launch of another new pilot program. This program aims to incentivize the distribution of patented technologies to address humanitarian needs.

According to the USPTO, “The program advances the president’s global development agenda by rewarding companies who bring life-saving technologies to underserved people of the world, while showing how patents are an integral part of tackling the world’s challenges.”

Unlike previous patent programs, the Humanitarian Awards Pilot Program will be run as an awards competition. Participating patent applicants, patent owners, and licensees will submit program applications describing what actions they have taken with their patented technology to address humanitarian needs among an impoverished population or further research by others on humanitarian technologies.

Applications will be considered in four categories:
– Medical Technology,
– Food & Nutrition,
– Clean Technology, and
– Information Technology.

Independent judges will review the program applications, and a selection committee will recommend awardees based on these reviews. Awardees will receive a certificate redeemable to accelerate select matters before the USPTO and public recognition for their efforts, including an award ceremony at the USPTO.

According to the USPTO, the certificate can be redeemed to accelerate one of the following matters:
– An ex parte reexamination proceeding, including one appeal to the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI) from that proceeding;
– A patent application, including one appeal to the BPAI from that application; or
– An appeal to the BPAI of a claim twice rejected in a patent application or reissue application or finally rejected in an ex parte reexamination, without accelerating the underlying matter, which generated the appeal.

Inter partes reexaminations and interference proceedings are not eligible for acceleration, nor are post grant reviews, inter partes reviews, derivation proceedings, or supplemental examinations. In addition, certificates awarded in the pilot are not transferable to other parties.

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