U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Green Energy Awards Seek Hydropower Innovations

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U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Green Energy Awards Seek Hydropower Innovations


September 5, 2023


Soma Saha, Patent Attorney, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Bo J. Peng, Attorney Advisor, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office


U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Green Energy Awards Seek Hydropower Innovations

NHA thanks our sponsors:

American Hydro

We live in a time of great change and breathtaking progress. The last century alone has borne witness to more innovation than in any previous age of human history, but serious challenges remain. It has been estimated that 844 million people have no access to drinking water, and more than 1 billion live without electricity, household energy, living standards, medicine, nutrition, and sanitation.

Given these realities, developing and using clean energy to reduce greenhouse emissions are now more pressing to humanity’s survival than ever before. Hydropower, as a clean, reliable, cost-effective, and versatile source of energy, plays an important role in the clean energy space. Innovations in hydropower can make this energy source even more sustainable and accessible.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Patents for Humanity recently introduced a Green Energy awards competition, which provides a platform for innovators to showcase their work and connect with other stakeholders. Not only will this help attract investment and support for new hydropower technologies, but it will educate the public about the benefits of hydropower and the challenges facing the industry.

In turn, this can help build support for hydropower and encourage the development of new technologies. Furthermore, the awards competition will raise awareness of the importance of hydropower and the role that patents can play in promoting and protecting innovation.

The deadline for application submissions is September 15, 2023, and interested participants are encouraged to apply.


This year’s Green Energy awards competition is the latest iteration of the USPTO’s Patents for Humanity competition. Launched in February 2012, Patents for Humanity recognizes innovators who use game-changing technology to meet global humanitarian challenges. The program provides business incentives for reaching those in need, as 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.

The Patents for Humanity Awards Competition was recently codified into law with the passage of the Patents for Humanity Act of 2022. It is the USPTO’s top honor for patent applicants devising game-changing innovations to address long-standing development challenges. Their success stories can inspire others to harness innovation for human progress. Past award winners include:

  • Nokero, for a low-cost solar light for the developing world
  • Golden Rice, for creating vitamin A–enriched rice that prevents blindness and death
  • Global Good Fund at Intellectual Ventures, for a cooler that can keep vaccines cold for over 30 days without electricity

Winners receive a certificate for acceleration of select USPTO proceedings that can help move their innovations to market, and they are honored at an award ceremony in Washington, D.C., attended by USPTO and government leaders.


This year, the Patents for Humanity awards competition focuses on innovations that address the challenges of climate change through green energy innovations, including wind, solar, hydrogen, hydropower, geothermal, biofuels, and other technologies.

Winners of this year’s competition will receive a certificate to accelerate USPTO processing for one eligible matter (such as an ex parte reexamination proceeding or a patent application), as well as public recognition of their work. Under recently enacted changes to the awards program, winners may now also transfer their acceleration certificates to third parties, including for compensation, and can leverage the acceleration certificate to obtain funding.

The Patents for Humanity Green Energy category joins other recent USPTO initiatives—such as a joint work-sharing program with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an expedited examination procedures under the Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program. and a partnership with the World Intellectual Property Organization’s WIPO GREEN program—designed to address the challenge of climate change.

In addition, the Patents for Humanity Green Energy awards competition is a valuable platform for the hydropower industry. It recognizes and rewards innovators who are working to make this clean and renewable energy source even more sustainable and accessible.


The deadline for the USPTO’s Patents for Humanity Green Energy category awards competition is fast approaching; applications must be submitted by Friday, September 15, 2023. To learn more about the Patents for Humanity Green Energy category awards competition, or to make a submission, visit the USPTO website.

Your patented innovation could do more than push technology forward, make the planet greener, and create jobs: It could save lives. Consider submitting an application today.