The US Patent and Trademark Workplace (USPTO) has issued an encouraging and informative 2020 Replace to its February 2019 Progress and Potential profile of ladies inventors on US patents. The preliminary report documented tendencies within the proportion of patent inventors who’re ladies (the “Ladies Inventor Charge”) and the proportion of patents which have not less than one lady inventor (their “Share of Patents”) by 2016. The Replace reveals solely slight will increase in each of those metrics during the last three years, however the will increase are seen for nearly all firms that file giant numbers of patents and nearly all of the states within the nation. The Replace additionally signifies that increasingly more ladies are amongst inventors being granted their first patent, and such ladies are nearly as doubtless as males to acquire additional patents. As defined beneath, the Replace thus demonstrates that our efforts to contain ladies inventors within the patent course of can and can deliver concerning the sorely wanted enchancment of their participation.
In line with the USPTO’s preliminary report, the Ladies Inventor Charge elevated from about 8% in 1995 to 12% in 2016, however remained decrease than the proportion of science and engineering jobs held by ladies—indicating that these low inventor charges aren’t merely the results of gender-based discrepancies in STEM schooling or employment. See our prior put up right here.
As famous within the Replace, the Ladies Inventor Charge elevated by simply 0.7% from 2016 to 2019. It was 12.8% on the finish of 2019. Over the identical interval, the share of patents with not less than one lady inventor elevated by simply 1.2%, as much as 21.9%. These tendencies are continuations of gradual however regular will increase within the participation of ladies inventors in patenting for the reason that 1970s, when each charges had been beneath 5%. That is proven in Determine 1 of the Replace, offered beneath in annotated type.
Whereas there may be now not less than one lady on 22% of US patents, and about 13% of all inventors on US patents are ladies, these numbers are decrease than comparable measures for overseas patents. See WIPO’s report. They’re additionally decrease than a wide range of measures of ladies’s potential, as acknowledged within the USPTO’s Replace:
[A] [Women Inventor Rate] of 12.8% is considerably decrease than different benchmarks of ladies’s schooling and employment as scientists and engineers. . . . These knowledge counsel that increasing the pipeline by schooling and science and engineering jobs, whereas obligatory, shouldn’t be ample to extend the participation of ladies as inventor-patentees.
There are numerous issues that firms can do to assist improve participation of ladies inventors in patenting. In a Assertion made to a Senate IP committee, Sandra Nowak, IP Counsel for 3M, described a wide range of actions taken at 3M to extend participation. As mirrored within the Replace, 3M had the biggest improve in a long-term measure of Ladies Inventor Charge (going again to 2007) when knowledge from 2016-2019 was added into the calculation – rising 1.4% to 15.2%. The Mental Property Homeowners Affiliation (IPO.org) has developed a Gender Range in Innovation Toolkit that may assist firms take the actions essential to impact such change.
There may be room for enchancment. For the 29 firms that personal the biggest variety of patents, 63% of them had Ladies Inventor Charges beneath the general common. Equally, for 51 states within the U.S. plus the District of Columbia, 80% of them had Ladies Inventor Charges beneath the general common. Nonetheless, all however 2 of the businesses and all however Four states confirmed some enchancment on this measure of their Ladies Inventor Charge from 2016 to 2019. The consistency in enchancment throughout firms and the states is encouraging, despite the fact that the precise charges could also be low.
There are additionally indicators that the gradual however regular improve of ladies inventors in patenting will proceed, and maybe even quicken. As famous within the Replace,
“Bringing new ladies into the patent system is likely one of the most necessary channels for increasing ladies’s participation as inventor-patentees.”
On this regard, the Replace stories larger charges of improve in new ladies inventors than for males. From 2014 to 2019, the variety of new men-inventor-patentees grew at 2.4% per 12 months, whereas the variety of new women-inventor-patentees grew at 4% per 12 months—nearly twice the speed of males. And for each women and men, new inventor-patentees are very more likely to be inventors on further patents. As of 2014, about 52% of recent males inventor-patentees remained lively, whereas about 46% of recent ladies inventor-patentees remained lively.
Total, the Replace needs to be a name to motion. It’s a reminder that girls’s participation as inventors within the patent system falls far wanting their potential. On the identical time, the Replace signifies that girls are coming into the patent system as inventors at a quicker price than males, and nearly as doubtless as males inventors to remain lively within the system. The Replace thus reveals that together with ladies inventors in patenting exercise, particularly people who haven’t been concerned earlier than, can and can result in continued progress.
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