Patents Serve Important Role in Humanitarian Causes


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Patents Serve Important Role in Humanitarian Causes
Patents Serve Important Role in Humanitarian Causes

You may not realize that patents play an important role in environmental and disaster relief, as well as many other humanitarian causes. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) oversees several programs that recognize the remarkable inventors whose inventions have had a profound impact on the world around them. These include Patents for Humanity, the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

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. One of the seven winners in 2015 was American Standard, creator of “SaTo” (Safe Toilet) Technology for people worldwide who do not have access to safe, basic sanitation. 

At the recent Patents for Humanity ceremony at the White House, Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee said, “We’ve seen the profound impact that good ideas—patented and marketed—can have on human beings, transcending national borders and transforming lives around the world. We want to showcase the laudable work of patent owners to address 21st century humanitarian challenges, and demonstrate how patents can and do help build a better world.” Learn about all the 2015 Patents for Humanity award recipients.

The National Medal of Technology and Innovation (NMTI) is the nation’s highest honor for technological achievement, bestowed by the President of the United States on America's leading innovators. The medal is awarded annually to individuals, teams, companies, or divisions of companies for their outstanding contributions to America’s economic, environmental, and social well-being. A recent NMTI winner whose work has helped with disaster relief is Dr. Cherry Murray. A 2014 winner, Dr. Murray served on President Obama's 2010 task force on the Deepwater Horizon disaster, where her research into densities of liquid was critical in understanding the magnitude of the spill and how to contain it. Nominations for 2015 are being accepted until June 1.

The National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF), a partnership with Invent Now, is dedicated to honoring legendary inventors whose innovations and entrepreneurial endeavors have changed the world. The candidate's invention must be covered by a U.S. patent, and the work must have had a major impact on society, the public welfare, and the progress of science and the useful arts. Located in the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, the NIHF includes over 500 inventors spanning over three centuries. Just one example of the many noteworthy inventors in the NIHF is Dr. Frances Arnold. A 2014 NIHF inductee (who also is an NMTI winner), Dr. Arnold is seeing her enzyme reproduction innovation applied to clean up toxic superfund sites. The 2015 National Inventor’s Hall of Fame inductees have been selected and will be honored at the 43rd annual induction ceremony taking place on May 12 at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

The USPTO will continue to recognize and support innovators whose ground-breaking efforts are making a difference in the lives of millions of people around the world. 

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Last updated: 2015-04-27 12:44

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