USPTO announces special Patents for Humanity COVID-19 category

USPTO announces special Patents for Humanity COVID-19 category

April 6, 2021

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on April 5 announced that it is launching a special category of its Patents for Humanity Program for inventions that address the COVID-19 pandemic. This new award category will provide business incentives for patent applicants, holders, and licensees whose inventions track, prevent, diagnose, or treat COVID-19.

“The Commerce Department is committed to supporting the groundbreaking work of the inventors and companies creating the new solutions we need to overcome the pandemic and other global challenges of the future,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “The Patents for Humanity program stands as a testament to the strength that human ingenuity can bring to solving humanity’s most pressing problems.”

Patents for Humanity recognizes innovators who use game-changing technology to meet global humanitarian challenges. The program provides business incentives for reaching those in need: winners receive an acceleration certificate to expedite select proceedings at the USPTO, as well as public recognition of their work. The awards showcase how patent holders with vision are pioneering innovative ways to provide affordable, scalable, and sustainable solutions for the less fortunate.

“Our nation’s innovation community is playing a crucial role in devising creative solutions to the ongoing pandemic,” said Drew Hirshfeld, performing the functions and duties of the USPTO Director. “Innovation is central to alleviating the difficulties COVID-19 has brought upon the public, and this new Patents for Humanity COVID-19 category allows us to provide special recognition to innovators tackling this unprecedented challenge.”

The current award cycle, which is only for applications related to COVID-19, opened on April 5; organizers will give the public 30 days notice before closing the cycle. Any U.S. patent or patent application that addresses COVID-19 is eligible for this new award, including any inventions created to track, diagnose, prevent, or treat the disease.

The Patents for Humanity certificate now has more options for use than those given in previous competitions. Under the Patents for Humanity Program Improvement Act, award winners now may transfer their acceleration certificates to third parties, including for compensation. This means winners can now leverage the acceleration certificate to obtain funds to help transform their inventions into deliverable goods and services.

Launched in February 2012, the Patents for Humanity Award is the USPTO’s top honor for patent applicants devising game-changing innovations to address long-standing development challenges. Their success stories can inspire others to harness innovation for human progress. Interested parties who are developing or who have developed technologies related to COVID-19, including those that track, diagnose, prevent, or treat the disease, are eligible to submit an application for this award once they file a patent application.

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