The USPTO has launched Patents for Humanity, a pilot awards program. Applications by patent owners and licensees must describe how they have used their patented technologies to address humanitarian needs.
Applications will be accepted in four categories:
• Medical Technology
• Food and Nutrition
• Clean Technology
• Information Technology
Eligible technologies include medicines, vaccines, medical diagnostic equipment, more nutritious or robust crops, food storage and preservation technology, water sterilization devices, cleaner sources of household light and heat, and information devices promoting literacy and education.
Applications will be accepted from March 1 to August 31, 2012. Only the first 1,000 valid accepted will be considered.
Each application will be initially reviewed by three judges from academia – not from the USPTO. A selection committee made up of Federal employees from agencies and labs will recommend up to 50 winners based on the reviews by these judges, with awards to be given within 90 days of the close of the application period.
Inventions from any field of technology will be considered, the target population may be anywhere in the world, and the financial requirements to get the technology to those in need will not be taken into account.
Winners will be honored at an awards ceremony at the USPTO. They will also receive a non-transferable certificate 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.
The matter accelerated by the certificate need not be related to the technology for which the award was given, but certificates must be redeemed within 12 months of issuance.
More information and applications are available here.