Leahy Introduces Legislation To Encourage The Humanitarian Work Of American Innovators
December 4, 2012
WASHINGTON (Tuesday, December 4, 2012) – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Committee member Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced legislation today that encourages and rewards the use of patented technology to address humanitarian needs. The bill, which builds on an existing program at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, seeks to reward patent holders who use their technology to improve the health and quality of life in impoverished nations by granting those businesses with faster processing of certain USPTO matters.
“By granting inventors exclusive rights in their discoveries for a limited time, the patent system incentivizes research and development by independent inventors and large multinational companies,” Leahy said. “This program will encourage patent holders to apply their intellectual property to address global humanitarian needs. I hope all Senators will join me in supporting this important goal.”
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Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
Introduction of the Patents for Humanity Program Improvement Act of 2012
December 4, 2012
Our intellectual property system in the United States is the envy of the world and the engine of economic growth. By granting inventors exclusive rights in their discoveries for a limited time, the patent system incentivizes research and development by independent inventors and large multinational companies. Consumers benefit from new technologies, and our economy benefits from continued investment.
I am introducing legislation today that will encourage patent holders to apply their intellectual property to address global humanitarian needs. This has long been an interest of mine. In 2006, I introduced legislation that would have created a statutory license to manufacture and export life-saving medicines to eligible, developing countries.
Today’s legislation, rather than creating a statutory license, improves on a program created by United States Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) earlier this year. The PTO’s “Patents for Humanity” Program provides rewards to selected patent holders who apply their technology to a humanitarian issue that significantly affects the public health or quality of life of an impoverished population. Those who receive the award are given a certificate to accelerate certain PTO processes.
Following a Judiciary Committee hearing in June, I asked Director Kappos whether the program would be more effective, and more attractive to patent owners, if the acceleration certificate were transferable to a third party. He responded that it would, particularly for small businesses. The Patents for Humanity Program Improvement Act of 2012 simply makes these acceleration certificates transferable.
Director Kappos described the Patents for Humanity Program as one that provides business incentives for humanitarian endeavors. All Senators should support both the approach and the objective.
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