Thursday, September 11, 2014

Patents for Humanity – USPTO Awards Program

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

The USPTO call for submissions to the Patents for Humanity program is extended to October 31, 2014. 

This competitive program, organized by the USPTO (United States Patent and TradeMark Office), is designed to recognize patent owners, assignees and applicants, whether businesses, non-profits or universities, who have contributed a patented invention for humanitarian purposes. In particular, this means an invention that is designed to help underserved populations of the world and/or uses technology to solve major global problems, in five categories: medicine, nutrition, sanitation, household energy and living standards. 

The program's 10 awards and 6 honorable mentions reward the selected winners with public recognition at a USPTO sponsored awards ceremony and acceleration of certain USPTO processes related to a patent application, such as the application process, ex parte reexam, or an ex parte appeal to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

The program was piloted in 2012 as part of President Obama’s Global Development Initiative, “encouraging game-changing innovations to solve long-standing development challenges” and the program was renewed in February 2014 (USPTO Press Release, 2014). 

The 2013 Patents for Humanity awards included such recipients as:
  • UC Berkeley (UCB) for ways of producing lower cost and more reliable anti-malarial compounds; 
  • Becton Dickinson (BD) for creating a fast, accurate TB diagnosis machine and placing 300 systems in 22 High Burden Countries, and
  • Sproxil, Inc., for deploying a system to identify counterfeit drugs with an ordinary cell phone in sub-Saharan Africa (Patents for humanity, 2013).
The USPTO screened and accepted list of contending entries for this year’s 2014 Patents for humanity awards is displayed in a public gallery at:

Among the 2014 contending inventions, there are four such viewable applications:
  •  Device to prevent hypothermia in pre-term babies in low resource setting - The device is called the IncuPouch™, the inventor is Prasanga Lokuge, and the entry concerns the humanitarian use of technology described in US 20120234877 A1 titled Infant carrier and US 20080149674 A1 titled Infant Carrier.
  • Cardiopulmonary lightening protection garment – a garment made of conductive fabric that prevents lightening from passing through the body and causing cardiopulmonary arrest. The company is Zoltar Technology, the inventor is Dan Schlager, and technology used for humanitarian purposes is described in US 20130298319 A1 titled Cardiopulmonary lightening protection garment
  • Portable neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) – a unit with reduced electrical power requirements that provides both heat, or cooling, for the infant patient, using water circulating through a heat exchanger. The company is called Designs for the world, LLC, the devices are called the Tokü™ incubators and the technology used for humanitarian purposes is described in US 20100168502 A1 titled Modular neonatal intensive care system.
  • Disaster Emergency Assessment Notification (DEAN) – A mobile app designed to track people in an emergency situation using QR codes. (Blaster Communications Inc.) 

Considering the 45-day extension period for filing entries, there is still time to compete! Here is the link for submitting application forms: 

- Press release: USPTO renews Patents for Humanity Program
- Patents for humanity 2013 Award recipients

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