WASHINGTON – Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) reintroduced the Patents for Humanity Act of 2019. The bipartisan bill encourages and rewards the use of patented technology to address humanitarian needs.
Patents for Humanity is the United States Patent and Trademark Office's (USPTO) awards competition which recognizes innovators who use game-changing technology to meet global humanitarian challenges. Winners of the program receive a certificate to accelerate certain processes at the USPTO; for example, accelerated review of another application or reexamination request. This legislation would codify the program and allow winners to transfer these certificates to a third party, which the USPTO and small start-up companies have said will help this vital program grow and even attract small inventors who might not use the certificates themselves.
The Patents for Humanity program has already made a critical difference across the world. Winners have worked to improve nutrition, provide clean drinking water, fix broken bones in remote hospitals that lack x-ray technology, bring solar-powered energy to villages that are off the power grid, and combat the problem of dangerous counterfeit drugs, among other achievements.
Leahy and Grassley introduced similar legislation last Congress, and in the 114th Congress the bill passed the Senate unanimously.
“American innovators are not only a driving force behind our economy, their work product often helps to make the world a better place. By enhancing the Patent and Trademark Office’s Patents for Humanity program, this bill rewards innovators for using their talents to help individuals and communities in need across the globe,” Grassley said.
“The Patents for Humanity Program illuminates our commitment to be the example for the world in intellectual property. This program incentivizes creators to address some of our most pressing global needs. This is a commonsense, bipartisan bill and I am hopeful it will pass this Congress,” Leahy said.
Additional background on the USPTO Patents for Humanity Program is available online. Text of the Leahy-Grassley bill is also available online.