United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the federal agency for granting U.S. patents and registering trademarks. The USPTO fulfills the mandate of Article I of the Constitution that the legislative branch "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

Under this system of protection, American industry has flourished. New products have been invented, new uses for old ones discovered, and employment opportunities created for millions of Americans. The strength and vitality of the U.S. economy depends directly on effective mechanisms that protect new ideas and investments in innovation and creativity.

The USPTO advises the president of the United States, the secretary of commerce, and U.S. government agencies on intellectual property (IP) policy, protection, and enforcement; and promotes the stronger and more effective IP protection around the world. The USPTO furthers effective IP protection for U.S. innovators and entrepreneurs worldwide by working with other agencies to secure strong IP provisions in free trade and other international agreements. It also provides training, education, and capacity building programs designed to foster respect for IP and encourage the development of strong IP enforcement regimes by U.S. trading partners. Learn more.

Patents for Humanity

Game-Changing Innovators Offer Life-saving Technologies
Patents for Humanity is the United States Patent & Trademark Office's (USPTO) awards competition recognizing innovators who use game-changing technology to meet global humanitarian challenges. The program provides business incentives for reaching those in need: winners receive an acceleration certificate to expedite select proceedings at the USPTO, as well as public recognition of their work. The awards showcase how patent holders with vision are pioneering innovative ways to provide affordable, scalable, and sustainable solutions for the less fortunate. Learn more about the program and submitting an application.

Volunteer to Judge
This is your chance to help! Patents for Humanity needs volunteers to serve as judges. Judging is similar to grant review or academic publication. If you are interested in volunteering for Patents for Humanity, please send your resume to patentsforhumanity@uspto.gov along with:

  • Your name and job title / position
  • Which categories (Medicine, Nutrition, Sanitation, Household Energy, Living Standards) you are interested in judging. If Medicine, also indicate whether you have experience with drugs and vaccines, medical diagnostics and devices, or both. USPTO will do their best to accommodate your preferences.
  • A brief one‐paragraph statement of how you meet the qualifications below.
To qualify as a judge for Patents for Humanity, volunteers should demonstrate the following:
  1. Subject matter expertise in science, engineering, economics, business, public policy, health, law, or a related field.
  2. Demonstrated understanding of a broad range of mechanisms for developing and commercializing technology.
  3. Experience with similar review processes such as grant applications or academic journal submissions.
  4. Additional experience that may be helpful: knowledge of humanitarian issues, especially the practical challenges presented with delivering goods and services to areas with inadequate transportation, electricity, security, government, or other infrastructure.

 Items 1 and 3 can be satisfied in many ways, including: a university teaching position, such as adjunct or part‐time faculty; technology transfer officers; professional researchers; or other professional experience.  Item 2 may be shown through activities that reflect commercialization experience or knowledge, such as: working in a technology transfer office, turning academic research into commercial products, working with startup companies that commercialize research, advising companies on market potential, engaging in market studies or analysis, obtaining investment capital to monetize patented technologies, or other activities with a commercial focus.

Learn more about the judging process and volunteer requirements here.