In the spring of 1955, Jonas Salk, an American physician and researcher, introduced the first safe and reliable polio vaccine. Polio, a debilitating virus that caused paralysis and death in a percentage of its victims who were mainly children, was by that time a national epidemic in the United States, and a serious problem in countries around the world. Hoping to help their ailing population, the US government licensed the vaccine the same day Jonas introduced it. Canada and European countries quickly followed suit. The vaccine was so effective, it dropped polio cases by 75%.
Jonas was celebrated around the world as a “miracle worker”. Despite his success, he never patented the vaccine.
When asked in an interview about who owned the patent, Jonas answered, “Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”