Patents For Humanity Program Improvement Act
The Patents for Humanity Program Improvement Act, H.R. 7259, was introduced on June 18th, 2020 and became law on January 5th, 2021. It was a bill that had bipartisan support to improve the United States Patent and Trademark Office's Patents for Humanity program.
With the passing of the Patents for Humanity Program Improvement Act, there is now a means of transferring an Acceleration Certificate for Fast-Track patents through sale. If your company is interested in buying or selling a patent with one of these Acceleration Certificates, contact us today. We can help you navigate through the new process opened up by the passing of this act.
What is the Patents for Humanity Program?
The Patents for Humanity Program is part of the United States Patent and Trademark Office's (USPTO) patent approval process. Created in 2012, this program gives innovators incentives and rewards for creating innovative technology that meets challenges involving global humanitarian issues, according to the USPTO. The goal of this federal government agency is to find ways to help new technology and innovations reach under-served areas of the world.
Every year a competition is held where companies who meet the criteria when filing for patents can apply to the Patents for Humanity Program for recognition. Those who are selected receive both public recognition, as well as the all-important Acceleration Certificate. This certificate can be used to accelerate the patent application, ex parte reexam, and ex parte appeal to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. For projects deemed worthy, this can greatly reduce the time for getting a patent approved. Honorable Mentions may also receive an Acceleration Certificate for the patent application, giving them an advantage as well.
What are the Award Categories for the Patents for Humanity Program?
There are five categories that the Patents for Humanity Program focuses on. Patent owners or licensees must show how their patented technology can address global humanitarian challenges in one of these categories:
- Living Standards – includes any technologies that enable people to escape poverty by raising living standards through such means as education, communications, literacy, microfinance, access to markets, and information delivery.
- Household Energy – focuses on technologies that allow energy-poor homes and communities to provide enough power for household needs like heating, cooking, and lighting.
- Medicine – technology related to any medical field, such as medicines, diagnostics, medical devices, or vaccines.
- Nutrition – any advancement which improves nutrition, such as food preservation, higher yield crops, more nutritious food sources, and storage or preparation technology.
- Sanitation – one of the most important factors in improving the health and lives of people, this includes technology that addresses environmental factors such as clean water, waste management and treatment, toxic substances, and air and water pollution.
When applying for a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, if you feel that your mission and technology may qualify for the Patents for Humanity program, you should consider contacting an experienced attorney to help guide you through the process. Crowley Law LLC has extensive experience with tech and life science matters, and through its extensive network can help you take advantage of the rewards offered by this program.
What is the Judging Criteria for the Patents for Humanity Program?
There are two sets of criteria, whose use depends on how the technology addresses global humanitarian problems.
Technology that falls under the Humanitarian Use category has four criteria that focus on demonstrable, real-world improvements.
- Contribution – Actions taken by the applicant must include meaningful actions to make the technology widely available for humanitarian uses.
- Impact – The target population must have received significant contributions and deployment of the applicant's technology. This may include third parties who are building on top of the applicant's contributions.
- Subject matter – A recognized humanitarian issue must be clearly and effectively addressed by the applicant's technology.
- Target population – An impoverished and underserved community or population must be targeted by the applicant's actions.
Technology that falls under Humanitarian Research has four criteria that focus on assisting those conducting research that includes a humanitarian purpose, especially ones lacking commercial applications
- Neglected Field – A recognized humanitarian issue must be helped by the research.
- Contribution – Actions taken by the applicant must include meaningful actions to make the technology widely available for researchers in a neglected field.
- Impact – The target neglected field must have a good potential for significant impact from the research. This may include research performed by third parties who are using the applicant's contributions.
- Subject matter – Research by others into a recognized humanitarian issue must be clearly and effectively supported by the applicant's technology.
What Has Changed with the Patents For Humanity Program Improvement Act?
The Patents for Humanity Program Improvement Act was created to help promote innovation and further accelerate the patent process for promising technology that could be used to address global humanitarian problems. Bill author, Rep. Lucy McBeth has stated that she believes that this program has the potential to truly change the world for the better. One of the added features in the Patents for Humanity Program Improvement Act is the ability to transfer an Acceleration Certificate through sale. Those who are chosen as recipients of the Patents for Humanity awards, as well as honorable mentions, receive an Acceleration Certificate to fast-track their patent through the application and review process.
Acquisition and Sale Of “Acceleration Certificates” by Small Biotech Companies
Thanks to the passing of the Patents for Humanity Program Improvement Act, now companies whose work has received this recognition can have the patent and Acceleration Certificate transferred by sale. This will allow smaller startups to capitalize on their new technology even before the patent process has been completed. It allows interested parties to continue the original mission and technology development through the sale of both the patent and the Acceleration Certificate. Conversely, it allows a company to buy new emerging technology, as well as the Acceleration Certificate, that has shown potential to positively affect global humanitarian efforts.
If you have been awarded a Patent for Humanity award and wish to transfer it and the Acceleration Certificate through sale, or are in the process of acquiring one, contact us today. We have a network of attorneys with extensive experience with small biotech companies and navigating through the process of buying and selling patents. In view of the new changes to the Patent for Humanity program from the Patents for Humanity Program Improvement Act, new avenues have opened up that small and large biotech and technology companies can take advantage of. Call us today to let us see how we can help you.