The most recent data available to the government shows that in a single year less than 15% of all inventors who receive patents from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) are women. Even more disconcerting is the fact that there is no data to show how other underrepresented groups fared. In response, the government announced the development of a new council — the Council for Inclusive Innovation (CI2).
This council was, arguably, a long time coming. According to a recent news release by the USPTO, the council is the result of the agency’s 2018 SUCCESS Act study and report. The delayed response is likely the result of a number of issues, including the ongoing pandemic.
What does this mean?
If the council is taking direction from the SUCCESS Act study and report, the agency’s move could signal an increase in programs and services geared towards underrepresented groups. This could include the use of programs within science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields for youth such as after-school programs and library presentations. The agency may also provide awards to those who push for diversity among entrepreneurs and creation of an IP toolkit to help “demystify” the patent process and encourage more participation.
The study also calls on increased authority of the USPTO to gather data about inventors who file for IP protections. At this time, the process does not include demographic information. It is possible that this information would be included, voluntarily, in the future. The researchers also called on Congress to expand the use of grants and other funds to promote invention and entrepreneurship amongst women, veterans, and other minorities.