Leahy, Grassley introduce legislation to encourage humanitarian work

Chuck Grassley Weekly Address 1From Press Release


Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Wednesday introduced bipartisan legislation to encourage and reward the use of patented technology to address humanitarian needs.  The bipartisan introduction comes as the Judiciary Committee is poised to consider broader legislation to improve the patent system and support innovation.

The Patents for Humanity Program Improvement Act 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.

“Our patent system drives developments that benefit us all, in our country and throughout the world,” said Leahy, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “As we seek to strengthen our patent system by rooting out bad actors, we should also support those who are applying their intellectual property to address global humanitarian needs.  I hope all Senators will join me in supporting this important goal.”

“This bill enhances the Patent and Trademark Office’s Patents for Humanity program which rewards patent holders who focus their technologies for humanitarian purposes,” said Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  “This will incentivize innovators to work on worthy projects that improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities around the world.”

Innovators and non-profits working in global health technologies praised Wednesday’s release of the bill, which was previously introduced by Leahy in the 112th and 113th Congresses.

Leahy and Grassley are also bipartisan coauthors with other leading Senators of the PATENT Act, a bill to protect businesses and innovators who too often become the victims of so-called “patent trolls.” The legislation was the result of two years of negotiations with Republicans, Democrats, and a range of stakeholders. The Judiciary Committee is expected to begin consideration of the PATENT Act in the coming weeks.