In an effort to direct the attention of technological innovators toward some of the world's most pressing humanitarian crises, the White House has partnered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a new program that will provide incentives to those who "do the most" to apply their intellectual assets to the development of much-needed solutions.
The U.S. patent system has been an unintentional source of frustration for legislators, according to PatentlyO, with the market-driven approach to innovation often steering focus away from humanitarian causes that do not present a clear opportunity for financial gain. To encourage and reward more altruistic pursuits, the Patents for Humanity challenge will offer award certificates that can be redeemed for accelerated prosecution of any patent application.
Previously, access to the USPTO's Track I Prioritized Patent Examination Program could only be obtained through a $4,800 fee.
"For over two centuries, strong patents have provided business incentives that encouraged technological progress to build our modern world," project coordinators noted. "As we struggle against humanitarian issues plaguing many of the world's poor, patents play an essential role in creating lasting solutions."
IP Watchdog's Gene Quinn, who was in attendance at the White House unveiling, suggested that a number of provisions will be put in place to ensure the judging committee receives high-quality patents that target a variety of problems. The meritocratic process will also consider all proposed solutions - regardless of geographic location, technological basis or production expense - and reward the standout inventions accordingly.