Patents for Humanity- Recognizing Advances In The Battle Against Covid-19

By Jeffrey M. Kaden

Did you know that there is an awards program that is run by the United States Patent Office called Patents for Humanity? Former President Obama started the program in February 2012 in order to encourage the development of new technologies whose purpose is to address global development and humanitarian challenges.

Two types of awards under the program are typically granted– Patents for Humanity awards and Honorable Mention awards. Patents for Humanity award recipients are given an acceleration certificate as well as public recognition of their achievement at an awards ceremony that is sponsored by the Patent Office. The acceleration certificate can be used to speed up examination and/or appeals of one or more patent applications.

Importantly, the award program is open to patent owners, applicants, assignees, and exclusive and non-exclusive licensees. Those who apply to the program must describe how they have used their patented technology in addressing a significant humanitarian issue. For purposes of the competition, a humanitarian issue is defined as “one significantly affecting the public health or quality of life of an impoverished population.”

In April of this year, the Patents for Humanity program launched the Patents for Humanity COVID-19 award category. The Covid-19 award category focuses on applicants, holders, and licensees whose inventions prevent, diagnose, or treat COVID-19. The category highlights COVID-19 success stories that will hopefully motivate others to further innovate in the continuing battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Patents for Humanity submissions in the Covid-19 award category are judged based on the effectiveness of the technology in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and the steps taken to make the technology available.

The deadline for submitting applications for the Patents for Humanity COVID-19 award is September 30, 2021.

The Covid-19 award category of the Patents Of Humanity program is just one of many efforts by the federal government to promote investment and innovation in technologies addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, the recent launch of this award category is indicative of the fact that the “novel” coronavirus may, unfortunately, be here with us for quite a while.


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If you enjoyed this article you may want to read Jeff’s previous article “Battling The COVID-19 Pandemic- Are Patents A Help Or A Hindrance?