Patents for Humanity

The patent system is sometimes frustrating to policymakers because of its market approach to invention. Innovators and investors decide the focus of research – not policymakers. As such, we tend to see research investment in areas of market value rather than areas that serve humanity in a broader or more altruistic sense. Now, these notions of market incentives and advancing humanism often overlap. A cure for cancer would serve humanity, but would be quite valuable in the marketplace as well. But, the point is that – with the patent system – the decision making is normally well outside of the control of policymakers.

When the government has specific technological advancement goals, it tends to choose non-patent development mechanisms such as finding a contractor to develop the technology, offering a grant to researchers, or perhaps offering a prize for successful development.

In a recent release, the USPTO and White House have announced a new hybrid program to provide an additional patent incentive for inventors who "do the most to apply their technologies to pressing global challenges." The way the program operates is that do-good inventors (and corporate patent owners) will receive an award certificate that can be used to accelerate the prosecution any patent application in their portfolio (a $4,800 value).

Through this initiative, the USPTO seeks to reward inventors who show that they have used their patented technologies to significantly address public health quality or to advance scientific research on neglected humanitarian issues. Such technologies may include life-saving medicines and vaccines, medical diagnostic equipment, more nutritious or heartier crops, food storage & preservation technology, water sterilization devices, cleaner sources of household light and heat, or information devices promoting literacy and education, among others. Awardees will be chosen by judges selected from academia for their expertise in medicine, law, science, engineering, public policy, or a related field.

Submissions will begin on March 1 and up to 50 winners will be chosen this calendar year.


41 thoughts on “Patents for Humanity

  1. 41

    The ingratitude twords me for the conception of the inventions of the pilanthropists and fat cats who refuse to reinvest to get filthier richer is whats really stalling human advancement coupled with 40 methods of stealing inventions in the system

  2. 38

    I had feared that the patent office’s elimination of its green-tech fast-track program indicated a decreased commitment to humanitarian and forward-looking initiatives. The Patents for Humanity programs reassures me at least somewhat that the administration has not completely abandoned these aims.

  3. 37

    Plumbing you should realize that my business now works on recieving customers and the lack of integritious ones spells econonic recession continuance due to the 100% volume of invention conceptions in my life time. I have no customers or investors or reinvestors from my previous conceptions so esentially the world economy is permadently depressed.

  4. 34

    It emphasized the reality that might occur aside from the fact that you are already in the field of business. I think this may give us some reliable information.

  5. 33

    Many people dont realize how invention conception affects economic prosperity. After the murder of my greatgrandfather Isiah Roberts the worlds only inventor in his life time period died in 1869.The country fell into depression until his son Delbert then 12 years old restarted it in 1882 with the invention of the internal combustion engine electrical power generation and grid, city water pumps and sewage system then in 1883 the invention of the automobile 1883 desoto. grandfather Delbert quit inventing in 1928 and another recession ensued called the great depression. Esentially lasting untill my birth started recovery in 1954. In 2004 The thieving of my inventions esentially stoped and now we have a gaping black hole causing non or weak economic restart.Congresses failure to fix the integrity of the patent system is holding up the works now along with a prevelent restance to integritious partnershiping in startup and corperate attitudes

  6. 32

    Don’t say that to the libs on here. Roosevelt is the savior of humanity. He raised taxes on the rich.

  7. 31

    On Point 2, raising taxes, I know you referred to the fact that Hoover raised taxes and that his tax increase was considered to be a major cause of the Great Depression. But then you say that Roosevelt saved America. But did you know that Roosevelt raise taxes himself, big-time, not once but every two years throughout his entire administration? He constantly campaigned against a rich, blaming them for everything – diverting attention from the fact that his own policies were causing damage. He imposed punitive taxes and kept raising them with the slogan that echoes throughout all time, “Soak the rich.”

    While the rest of the world saw a quick recovery from the depression of their early 30s, the United States continued to see the depression continue until World War II. This has a lot to do with Roosevelt and his policies. He not only did not save America, he almost single-handedly ruined America.

    Had it not been for World War II, Roosevelt’s legacy when and quite different from what it is today.

  8. 30

    You have it somewhat right up until 1931, but you stopped there. If you go on from 1931 to 1936, you will see how Roosevelt made things much worse by his populist attacks on business and his taxes on corporate profits. This created a mini depression within the depression.

  9. 29

    No One, I think a lot of economists also agree that the effort to maintain high wages was another contributing factor.  It is not discussed much, and for obvious reasons.  It tends to undercut the politics behind the minimum wage, first enacted by Roosevelt, but something I think Hoover would have supported.

    It is interesting the the Euros have caught on that there is a correlation between high wages, high minimum wages and unemployment in a deflationary economy.

    I think you demur because of politics.  However, I do agree that Bush/Paulson/Barny Frank and others of like minds, and the Freddy Macs of the world, were behind the housing bubble that collapsed.

  10. 28

    The only high wages that promote unemployment are the unconscionably high wages and benefits given to company executives and corporate raiders (by themselves).

    The Great Depression started because banks engaged in risky behavior, lost money, and failed. Because banks were uninsured many people lost their money, too. People soon realized that banks were not safe and took their money out of the banks. Because margin requirements were so small, it caused more banks to fail. If you want to see how a “bank run” works watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart et al.

    The surviving banks stopped lending money.

    The Great Depression became the Great (and Worldwide) Depression because (among other things):

    1. The Federal Reserve tightened credit.

    2. In the face of declining tax revenues Congress raised taxes.

    3. Congress passed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act which raised import tariffs on agricultural and industrial goods. Naturally, our trading partners retaliated and our exports plummeted.

    4. The drought in the Mississippi Valley in 1930 put a great many farmers out of business. Read the “Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck. If you don’t have time to read the book, watch the movie with Henry Fonda. (Oh wait, he’s dead. You’ll have to watch it by yourself.)

    And stop blaming Roosevelt. He managed to save the country despite a hostile Republican Congress and an obstructionist Supreme Court.

    The current collapse has happened because Bush Jr. (who was given the Presidency by another Supreme Court) allowed his friends in the oil, energy, and financial industries to loot the American economy.

    It’s still going on under Obama.

    If you want a historical perspective read “The Lessons of History” by Will and Ariel Durant.

    Even better, read their complete series of ten volumes: “The Story of Civilization.”

    With “Citizens United” added to the mix you ain’t seen nothing yet.

  11. 27

    On another note, it appears in Europe they understand that high wages are directly related to unemployment:

    link to

    While this should be obvious, I have always been struck by the fact that historians do not point out that one of the contributing factors to the great depression were the efforts of both Hoover and Roosevelt to keep wages high even in a strongly deflationary economy and in face of record unemployment.

  12. 26

    Maybe I can get a bag of peanuts with each patent app. from the philanthropists that steal all my money throughour crooked system

  13. 25

    If I tone down my Rhetoric will you let this go through… Pretty Please… Babble Boy calling someone brain dead won’t look to good soon enough. I know that was for me. But sadly you don’t know what’s coming. BUT YOU WILL.

  14. 24

    I wonder if you can run up backdated pto credits I could become a -millionare for what ive already done and other people got paid for.

  15. 23

    “to significantly address public health quality or to advance scientific research on neglected humanitarian issues”

    Now that is intangible subject matter.

  16. 21

    Here is some Humanity for you. The stalling of the Check to add two sets of words one being register able and registerable. Which are “NOT” anywhere on either App. sent to me. But whether they were added it in August of 97 or not, later showing the Taylor Fender Cover as proof of reason to stall and not allow also, was never a reason to allow or not. Which one is Ollie and which one is Hardy? I remember being asked in early 1999 if I had anymore copies. Oh yes, I do and I did. GHA GHA GHA GHA GHA! So I think it was then when the merge was an absolute necessity is when that happened!

  17. 16

    The USPTO is trying to buy its way into Heaven with the money it is stealing from Applicants.

    The last refuge of a scoundrel is not patriotism. It’s “Helping Humanity.”

    Remind you of anyone?

  18. 15

    You really need to step out of govn’t for a bit. You’re getting disoriented and your understanding of finance and accounting is diminishing at an acclerating pace.

  19. 14

    Not really, we just waive the fee. In other words, examiners will now be funding GE Energy and Solyndra in their accelerated exams.

    So rest easy.

  20. 13

    They forgot to put the money where there mouth is. Of course I am running another problem of all of what should have been my previous business partners wanting to cheat me of any reasonable share of there profits and now dont want to deal with the issue. Since that comprises virtually everything of value in the office its a global problem.

  21. 11

    The only thing they forgot is funding for top inventions weve got 2600 and counting in a black hole wile congress squandered 1.6 trillion and counting on non permadent jobs to restart the economy dumb hugh!

  22. 10

    I think there finally starting to accept my idea of shifting the emphysis on awarding patents from machine only to anything that is valuable and of benefit to human advancement is in need of a patent and encouragement to the inventor

  23. 9

    I would feel better about “Patents for Humanity” if the Obama administration and especially Congress would focus as much attention on the system (i.e., USPTO) which will examine those patents. Instead, what we got is the AIA (Abominable Inane Act) which has wrought and is about to, for example, through the proposed fee changes (see other thread), great harm to that system which won’t be made up through “Patents for Humanity.”

  24. 5

    “As such, we tend to see research investment in areas of market value rather than areas that serve humanity in a broader or more altruistic sense.”

    Shouldn’t that read:

    “As such, we tend to see research investment in areas of market value rather than funneling money directly to politicians’ cronies back in the home district.”

  25. 2

    I’m trying to figure this program out — and have written about ti for tomorrow. Will the time/opportunity costs of applying for the program be worth the $4800 benefit? As announced, you have to have a granted or allowed patent to start with, and you can’t transfer the “acceleration certificate” to anyone else.

  26. 1

    So my individual inventors and mid market companies will now be funding GE Energy and Solyndra in their accelerated exams?

    Man, that’s messed up.

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