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U.S. Department of Commerce Announces Patents for Humanity Winners

Friday, April 12, 2013

Pilot program encouraged patent holders to address global humanitarian challenges

The U.S. Department of Commerce today announced the winners of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Patents for Humanity pilot program during an awards ceremony on Capitol Hill supported by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Launched by the USPTO in February 2012 as part of an Obama administration initiative promoting game-changing innovations to solve long-standing development challenges, Patents for Humanity is a competition recognizing patent owners and licensees who address global challenges in health and standards of living.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank, U. S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Special Assistant to the President and National Security Council Senior Director Gayle Smith and Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property Teresa Stanek Rea delivered remarks at the awards ceremony.

“A strong patent system is crucial to supporting our continued economic growth, and its benefits don’t stop at our borders. Patented inventions are bringing longer, healthier, fuller lives to people across the globe,” said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank. “As part of the President’s global development agenda, the Patents for Humanity program is a great example of how American innovation is helping solve critical global challenges and creating prosperity in emerging economies.”

“As a global leader, the United States has a responsibility to take the initiative on humanitarian issues,” said U. S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). “Programs like Patents for Humanity highlight how we can create incentives for researchers and businesses to use American innovation to address global humanitarian needs. I am pleased to reintroduce legislation to further strengthen this program, and I congratulate the award winners today.”

“The USPTO’s Patents for Humanity program is a wonderful example of President Obama’s transformative approach to development and we’re thankful to the Patent and Trademark Office for this initiative,” said Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Democracy and Development, National Security Staff. “The winners of this competition show how the private sector, NGOs, universities and U.S. government are working together to create solutions to infectious diseases, nutrition and safe drinking water. Congratulations to USPTO and the winners!”

“Time and again history shows the profound impact that one good idea—patented and marketed—can have on human beings, our world, and our way of life,” said Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Acting Director of the USPTO Teresa Stanek Rea. “I am particularly excited about the Patents for Humanity program, which encourages patent owners to use their technologies to benefit those who live in under-developed and under-served regions around the world.”

Entrants competed in four categories: medical technology, food and nutrition, clean technology, and information technology. Applications to the pilot were accepted through Oct. 31, 2012. In addition to being recognized for their work, winners will receive accelerated processing of select matters at the USPTO. In January 2013, the non-profit Licensing Executives Society International (LESI) presented the 2012 National IP and Technology Transfer Policy Award to Patents for Humanity.

Following is a list of the 2012 Patents for Humanity winners:

Category: Medical – subcategory Medicines & Vaccines

  • Gilead Sciences, for making HIV drugs available to the world's poor using a network of generics manufacturers in Asia and Africa.
  • University of California, Berkeley, for developing research and license agreements to provide a lower-cost, more reliable way to produce anti-malarial compounds.

Category: Medical – subcategory Diagnostics & Devices

  • SIGN Fracture Care International, for distributing low-cost fracture implants to speed healing in developing world hospitals.
  • Becton Dickinson (BD), for creating a fast, accurate TB diagnosis machine and placing 300 systems in 22 High Burden Countries.

Category: Food & Nutrition

  • DuPont Pioneer, for developing an improved strain of sorghum fortified with more protein and vitamins for use in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Intermark Partners Strategic Management LLP, for extracting edible protein and vitamins from waste rice bran in Latin America.

Category: Clean Tech

  • Procter & Gamble, for distributing a small chemical packet which removes impurities and contaminants from drinking water and has purified nearly 5 billion liters worldwide.
  • Nokero, for delivering solar light bulbs and phone chargers for off-grid villages through local entrepreneurs.

Category: Info Tech

  • Sproxil, Inc, for deploying a system to identify counterfeit drugs with an ordinary cell phone in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Microsoft Corporation, for providing machine learning tools that allow health researchers to better analyze large data sets.

For more information on Patents for Humanity, including expanded descriptions of the winning patents and selection criteria, visit

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