USPTO Launches Cancer Moonshot Challenge

The following was originally published on the USPTO Director’s Blog and is a guest post by USPTO Chief of Staff Vikrum Aiyer and Senior Advisor Thomas A. Beach

The USPTO is playing an important role in the National Cancer Moonshot, a Presidential initiative we blogged about earlier this summer, to speed up cancer advances, make more therapies available to more patients, and improve the ability to prevent cancer and detect it at an early stage. Today, we are launching the USPTO Cancer Moonshot Challenge to enlist the public’s help to leverage our intellectual property data, often an early indicator of meaningful research and development (R&D), and combine it with other economic and funding data (ie. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings, Food and Drug Administration reporting, National Science Foundation grants vs. philanthropic investments, venture capital funding, etc.). This comes on the heels of our Patents 4 Patients program, which was launched in July and aims to cut in half the time it takes to review patent applications in cancer therapy.

The USPTO Cancer Moonshot Challenge will conclude on September 12 and winners will be announced on September 26. Learn more about the prizes.

Participants will have the opportunity to leverage USPTO Cancer Moonshot patent data to reveal new insights into investments around cancer therapy research and treatments. Some questions to address include: What are the peaks and valleys in the landscape of cancer treatment technologies? What new insights can be revealed by correlating R&D spending/funding to breakthrough technologies? What would trace studies of commercially successful treatments from patent to product tell us? With the data sets released through the USPTO Developer Hub, users will be able to use analytic tools, processes and complimentary data sets to build rich visualizations of intellectual property data, which will help illuminate trend lines for new treatments. During the three week challenge, the USPTO will hold a USPTO Cancer Moonshot Workshop to assist participants, on Thursday August 25.

After the challenge has concluded, the USPTO, in tandem with other Moonshot Task Force partners, will look at further ways to use the findings. By bringing together cancer experts, policymakers, and data scientists, we can explore and identify how intellectual property data can be better leveraged and combined with other data sets to support cancer research and the development of new commercialized therapies. This will empower the federal government—as well as the medical, research, and data communities—to make more precise funding and policy decisions based on the commercialization lifecycle of the most promising treatments, and maximize U.S. competitiveness in cancer investments.

 We recognize that by enlisting the public’s assistance through our USPTO Cancer Moonshot Challenge, we can identify new and creative ways to fight cancer and work towards breakthroughs in treatment.  And by harnessing the power of patent data, and accelerating the process for protecting the intellectual property undergirding cancer immunotherapy breakthroughs, the USPTO is standing up and doing its part to help bring potentially life-saving treatments to patients, faster. Are you up to the challenge?

18 thoughts on “USPTO Launches Cancer Moonshot Challenge

    1. 4.1

      From the article: If patents were harder to get on nonessential properties of medications, there would likely be more competition sooner.

      Glad to see you’re beginning to see the light, PB. Baby steps.

      Oh, and here’s a much better poster child for you:

      link to

      Mylan, the pharmaceutical company, acquired the decades-old product in 2007, when pharmacies paid less than $100 for a two-pen set, and has since been steadily raising the wholesale price. In 2009, a pharmacy paid $103.50 for a set. By July 2013 the price was up to $264.50, and it rose 75 percent to $461 by last May. This May the price spiked again to $608.61,

      Love the gradual increase! Because maybe nobody will notice. LOL

      1. 4.1.2

        MM, you know that Mylan is a generic drug company and that the product in your “poster child” story is not patent-protected, do you?


          link to

          Among the usual advice for lower your prescription drug costs is to seek out a generic alternative. But because of the patent on the EpiPen delivery device, a true generic doesn’t exist.

    2. 4.2

      It gets better!

      link to

      Proxy filings show that from 2007 to 2015, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch’s total compensation went from $2,453,456 to $18,931,068, a 671 percent increase.

      Because Heather is an awesome person! Totally ethical! And super smart. Oh, but wait:

      link to

      In late April, an independent panel reported that the university showed “seriously flawed” judgment in awarding an M.B.A. to Heather Bresch, the daughter of Gov. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, even though she did not have enough academic credits. Ms. Bresch is a longtime friend and former business associate of the university president, Mike Garrison.

      Good stuff.

  1. 3

    What the PTO is promoting here, what the contest is about, is making a better graph.

    The contest is about a technique for VISUALIZING information in patents.

    Apparently, someone thinks the cure for cancer could be found if one could only graph or animation of patent literature.

    I’m skeptical.

    Also, I’m afraid that if someone does invent such a visualization technique, the same USPTO will refuse them a patent because 1) It could be done in the human mind, 2) it could be done with pencil and paper, 3) It was claimed broadly (e.g., functionally), 4) the technique is an algorithm and algorithms are math and math is not patentable.

    Moreover, if someone else uses the technique to visualize information in patent publications and in so doing finds the needle in the hay stack and develops the cure for cancer, the same Patent Office will refuse them a patent because 1) it is merely and embodiment of a law of nature (e.g., X kills cancer cells), 2) it would have been obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art after viewing the visualization of the prior art, 3) it preempts anyone else from curing cancer using X, 4) it is merely a correlation (e.g., doing X kills cancer).

  2. 2

    Just for our laughs – I once submitted an ap for a method to prevent cancer. The USPTO shot it down for lack of proof – legit, there was none – so my moonshot went down in flames.

    Here is some of it online. (The method is taking a wee dose of fluoride in early pregnancy. I still think it will work.) link to
    I still do a little work on the birth defects: link to

  3. 1

    Kudos for the additional effort. Of course, unlike a realistic and tangible goal of “going to the moon”, the idea of “curing cancer once and for all” is a pipe dream. Maybe when we get rid of our bodies we can stop worrying about cancer. Until then, the best we can hope for is better prevention and treatment options.

    Also, $1 billion seems like chicken feed to address a health problem that affects pretty much everybody in this country. Heck, we bonfired at least that much cash without blinking when we came up with the awesome idea to freedum-bomb Libya. Instead of fixing other countries’ problems, how about we focus on addressing problems in our own country? Yes, it’s going to cost a lot of money. Thankfully, America has a lot of money.

    Meanwhile, the brilliant Senator Johnson (R) from the increasingly disappointing state of Wisconsin is launching a super serious attack on the “education cartel”. Watch out, all you overpaid academics! That old “destructive techn0logy” is comin’ to destruct you!

    “We’ve got the internet — you have so much information available. Why do you have to keep paying different lecturers to teach the same course? You get one solid lecturer and put it up online and have everybody available to that knowledge for a whole lot cheaper? But that doesn’t play very well to tenured professors in the higher education cartel. So again, we need destructive technology for our higher education system,” he said.

    Johnson added, “One of the examples I always used — if you want to teach the Civil War across the country, are you better off having, I don’t know, tens of thousands of history teachers that kind of know the subject, or would you be better off popping in 14 hours of Ken Burns’s Civil War tape and then have those teachers proctor based on that excellent video production already done?

    The United States is already the world leader in Advanced PBS Miniseries Studies. Johnson’s initiative will seal that title for all time.

    1. 1.2

      I suspect that the bright idea hear is that everyone in the US gets a free license to new cancer remedies because the government funded their original discovery. A new twist on the theme that inventions are public rights.

      1. 1.2.1

        Rather than some awesome new “cancer cure” coming out of this “moonshot”, I think we’re far more likely to discover that a bunch of other touted “remedies” are either not remedies at all, or they are more harmful than the cancer being targeted.

        That’s definitely useful information and, yes — like nearly all useful information — it deserves to be in the public domain sooner rather than later.

        But maybe we’ll get the awesome new “cancer cure”, too, and maybe it’ll be cheap and affordable! Surprises like that are also welcome.

      2. 1.2.2

        The government, even if it does fund this, usually doesn’t produce it. The Gov’t wants to be able to use it, not give it away. The company keeps the patent and makes the money. Or that’s the way it normally works.


          Except that the anti-troll movement is promoting legislation that would effectively strip government-sponsored research of patents by preventing enforcement of their patents.


          This is NOT about how the “normal way” works, PatentBob.

          But hey, this is for the good of the Commune, so really, what could go wrong here? We should have cancer licked just as fast as running into a college coffee shop with an armful of pizzas…


    2. 1.3

      it’s going to cost a lot of money. Thankfully, America has a lot of money.

      Especially if we all commune together and eliminate private property, eh Malcolm?

      (Jane is already down on her knees)


    3. 1.4

      The “chicken feed of $1 Billion is for what…?

      Oh yeah – number crunching and making pretty pictures – and the insights from number crunching.

      I’d say that’s a pretty nice thing for something you habitually denigrate here, Malcolm.

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