The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the White House have set up a scheme called ‘Patents for Humanity’, in an effort to encourage and reward people who invent products that will help humanity.
The project is to coincide with President Obama’s global development agenda. Patentlyo highlights this new scheme as demonstrating the new merging of market and humanitarian concerns that exists today, noting that ‘we tend to see research investment in areas of market value rather than areas that serve humanity in a broader or more altruistic sense. Now, these notions of market incentives and advancing humanism often overlap.’
According to the USPTO site, the Patents for Humanity scheme aims to encourage patents that advance research in four categories ‘Medical Technology, Food and Nutrition, Clean Technology and Information Technology’. Awards will be presented to 50 recipients who will receive a certificate for accelerated patent processing, allowing applications in their portfolios to skip queues at the USPTO, who claim that ‘Not only will the fast processing help technologists get their solutions to market faster; it will also demonstrate that humanitarian endeavors and smart economic growth can work hand in hand.’.
While the idea behind the program is to reward companies that focus on humanitarian endeavors, they do not necessarily have to use the certificate just for innovations in this vein. They might use them on any application in their portfolio. The types technologies likely to be considered are those which confront global development issues. The project is due to run for 12 months, with expert judges drawn from related fields.
Talking about the project, the director of the USPTO, David Kappos, explained that ‘Sweeping revolutions in technology remind us of what the innovative drive and entrepreneurial spirit can do to build a better world. This pilot program underscores that in the face of some of the most daunting challenges humans confront on this planet, the power to innovate is the power to lead by design and by solution.’