11 APRIL 2013: The Medicines Patent Pool welcomes today’s announcement of the first set of awards under the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Patents for Humanity programme, which recognised the importance of voluntary licensing as a way to increase access to needed technologies.
Among today’s awardees was Gilead Sciences, recognised for its voluntary licensing programme that led them to become the first pharmaceutical company to join the Medicines Patent Pool in July 2011. Licensing to the MPP is an effective way to both drive ongoing medical innovation and ensure that needed medicines get to people living with HIV in developing countries.
The Patents for Humanity programme is designed to reward patent holders for using their technologies to advance public goods or meet humanitarian challenges. Winners receive accelerated processing of certain activities at the USPTO as well as publicity and US government recognition.
The creation of such incentives can go a long way towards ensuring cutting-edge technologies are available wherever they are needed, as opposed to only where they can be afforded. The Pool applauds the initiative from the USPTO and encourages patent offices around the world follow on the USPTO’s example.