By Donald Zuhn --
On Monday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced the latest winners of the Patents for Humanity program. The Patents for Humanity program, which was launched by the Office in February 2012, is a competition recognizing patent owners and licensees who address global challenges in health and standards of living. Entrants are divided into five categories: medicine, nutrition, sanitation, household energy, and living standards. Winners receive accelerated processing of select matters at the USPTO (i.e., a patent application, ex parte reexamination, or an ex parte appeal to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board) in addition to recognition for their work. The latest winners are as follows:
• Sanofi for its work in manufacturing artemisinin, an important antimalarial drug derived from the sweet wormwood plant in Asia and Africa, thereby supplying large quantities of artemisinin anti-malarial compounds on a no-profit-no-loss basis for use in developing countries.
• Novartis for its discovery of a class of compounds called indolcarboxamides that are active against drug-sensitive and multidrug-resistant strains of tuberculosis, and providing its entire tuberculosis R&D program, including these compounds, to the TB Alliance, a non-profit product development partnership that seeks to find new and improved tuberculosis treatment regimens.
• American Standard for partnering with BRAC, UNICEF, Save the Children, and other NGOs to distribute its “SaTo” (Safe Toilet) Technology, which was created for people worldwide who do not have access to safe, basic sanitation, throughout the developing world.
• SunPower Corp. for outfitting standard shipping containers with solar panels on top and equipment inside to power hundreds of safe, rechargeable lanterns, and donating the containers and supplies to partner organization for distribution in impoverished communities.
• Nutriset for developing nutritional products made from peanuts and other ingredients that help malnourished children quickly and safely regain weight and digestive function, delivering its Plumpy’Nut branded products throughout the world with partners like UNICEF and USAID, and assembling entrepreneurs in participating countries to manufacture the Plumpy' range of products for local needs.
• The Golden Rice Project for inventing the Golden Rice technology (genetically enhanced rice that provides a source of vitamin A for people subsisting mainly on rice) and donating the technology to the resource poor in developing countries. Local Golden Rice varieties are currently being developed by public sector institutions in Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam.
• Global Research Innovation & Technology (GRIT), founded by engineering graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), for creating a wheelchair technology to increase mobility for the disabled around the world. The GRIT three-wheel Leveraged Freedom Chair, built from standard bicycle parts, uses a push-lever drivetrain to help people move over broken pavement, dirt roads, fields, hills, rocky terrain and more. The chair has been distributed in partnership with the World Bank, Red Cross, and others in India, Brazil, Guatemala, Guinea, Kenya, Haiti, Easter Island, Nepal, and Tanzania.
Additional information regarding the latest winners of the Patents for Humanity program can be found here.