Leahy And Grassley Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation To Encourage The Humanitarian Work Of American Innovators

Senators Patrick Leahy and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Tuesday reintroduced bipartisan legislation to encourage and reward the use of patented technology to address humanitarian needs.  The bipartisan introduction comes on the eve of World Intellectual Property Day on Wednesday, a day to celebrate and learn about the role of intellectual property rights in promoting innovation.

The Patents for Humanity Program Improvement Act, S.927, builds on an existing award program at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that recognizes patent holders who use their technology to improve the health and quality of life in impoverished nations.  The legislation improves the incentives for small businesses to participate in the program, by ensuring that the prize – a certificate for expedited processing of certain matters at USPTO – can be transferable to third parties.

Leahy and Grassley introduced similar legislation last Congress, which unanimously passed the Senate in June.

Leahy said:  “The American intellectual property system is rightly held as the global standard for promoting innovation and driving economic growth.  This is particularly true of our patent system, which drives developments that benefit us allThe Patents for Humanity program is a perfect example of how intellectual property rights encourage inventors to tackle some of the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges.  This is a commonsense bipartisan bill that Congress should pass this year.”

Grassley said:  “American innovators are not only a driving force behind our economy, their work product often helps to make the world a better place.  By enhancing the Patent and Trademark Office’s Patents for Humanity program, this bill rewards innovators for using their talents to help individuals and communities in need across the globe.”

Previous winners of the Patents for Humanity Award have worked to improve nutrition, provide clean drinking water, fix broken bones in remote hospitals that lack x-ray technology, bring solar-powered energy to villages that are off the power grid, and combat the problem of dangerous counterfeit drugs, among other achievements. 

Additional background on the USPTO Patents for Humanity Program is available online.  Text of the Leahy-Grassley bill is also available online

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