Enabling Innovation Policies

Gender Profiles in UK Patenting: An analysis of female inventorship

This analysis by the UKIPO shows that, in the 1980s, women represented less than 4% of inventors on GB patent applications, but that this has steadily risen to over 8% in recent years. Although absolute numbers remain relatively low, the last 10 years have seen a 16% increase in the proportion of female inventors. The overall proportion of patents involving a female inventor (either working alone or as part of a team) has more than tripled, from 4% in 1980 to over 12% in 2015; at the same time, the last 10 years have seen the proportion of individual female inventors’ plateau at around 3.75%. The number of all-female teams has increased fivefold since 1980, but the absolute numbers are still very low, with only 0.33% of patents coming from all-female teams in 2015. Although historical analysis reveals ever-increasing levels of female patenting, the growth rate is slow and the absolute numbers are still very low. The world of patenting remains male-dominated, and, even in 2015, there is a clear gender disparity: 88% of all GB patent applications come from male individuals or all-male teams, and almost 96% teams that submit applications include at least one man.

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2017 Women’s Participation in Patenting: An Analysis of PCT Applications Originating in Canada

This report from 2017, by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, examines international patent applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), in order to determine the share of inventors who are women and the share of PCT applications with at least one woman inventor. The report studies PCT applications by Canadian applicants, and finds that Canada has seen little change in the share of inventors who are women in the last 15 years, even as the world share continues to grow.

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Brazil shortens term of thousands of pharma and medical device patents

In the middle of May, the Brazilian Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling, deciding that a controversial provision of the country’s patent law guaranteeing a minimum 10-year, post-issuance term (Article 40) was unconstitutional. The court opted to apply the ruling to all current pharmaceutical and medical device patents (regardless of the specific products they relate to) that have benefited from the provisions of Article 40, as well as all patents with pending nullity actions (filed by 7th April 2021). The judgment also applies to pending applications and new filings (regardless of the length of delay they have faced).

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Building a Culture of Trade Secret Protection

Craig Moss, Executive Vice President of Ethisphere, explains in this video that protecting your company’s ‘crown jewels’—namely, intellectual property—effectively needs to be more than simply signing non-disclosure agreements and marking documents as confidential. This is especially true today, since more and more companies are going through a digital transformation.

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Identifying the gender of PCT inventors

This paper, by Gema Lax Martinez, Julio Raffo and Kaori Saito, analyzes the gender of inventors in international patent applications. The authors compile a worldwide gender-name dictionary, which includes 6.2 million names for 182 different countries, which they use to discern the gender of PCT inventors. The results of the researchers suggest that there is a gender imbalance in PCT applications, but that the proportion of women inventors is improving over time. They also find that the rates of women’s participation differ substantially across countries, technological fields and sectors.

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Challenges for Women Inventors and Innovators in Using the IP System

Jozefina Cutura explains that, despite marked improvements in gender equality, gender gaps persist in patenting and in women’s ability to commercialize their creative and innovative output. Under its Policy on Gender Equality, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) must integrate a gender perspective into its policies and programs. Given the gender disparities in patenting, WIPO is undertaking a project on increasing the role of women in innovation and entrepreneurship, which aims, in particular, to encourage women in developing countries to use the intellectual property (IP) system.

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How much COVID-19 vaccine will be produced this year?

Simon J. Evenett and Matt Linley have prepared fresh forecasts for COVID-19 vaccine production through the end of the year.

Currently there is a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines. The 1.73 billion doses of vaccine produced to date pale in comparison to the 10.82 billion doses needed to inoculate 75% of the world’s population aged 5 or over. The shortage is particularly acute in many developing countries that have been unable to secure vaccine supplies, raising legitimate concerns about the equitable access. The development of new variants among the uninoculated—which then spread across borders—is a reminder that a global perspective on vaccine production and distribution is required. According to the authors, by the end of 2021, total COVID-19 vaccine production is forecast to exceed levels needed to reach global herd immunity.

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The Global Trade Secrets Protection Index (TSPI)

Mark Schultz and co-author Douglas Lippoldt created the Trade Secret Protection Index (TSPI). The TSPI is a data-driven, objective index that measures the strength of trade secret protection in 39 countries from 1985 to 2010. It was originally created for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in two ground-breaking studies, which IIPR is working to update and expand upon, so more information and analysis will be available shortly about the state of TS protection in different countries.

The first study, Approaches to Protection of Undisclosed Information (Trade Secrets), explains the importance of trade secret law and establishes the TSPI, explaining its methodology and results.

The second study, Uncovering Trade Secrets – An Empirical Assessment of Economic Implications of Protection for Undisclosed Data, uses the TSPI to assess the economic impact of trade secret law. It finds a positive relationship between the strength of trade secret laws and several important economic outcomes related to trade and innovation.

Link to TSPI.

 

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Waiving IP Rights During Times of COVID: A ‘False Good Idea’

For Hans Sauers, it is clear that the COVID pandemic is being used as a cover narrative to argue for a quantum leap in the debate over IP and public health. In other words, taking away or denying patent rights is, according to some, no longer enough. Affirmative expropriation and the forced transfer of industrial property is taking its place on the NGO agenda – at least with respect to vaccine originator companies from North America and Western Europe. It is unclear why, but no nongovernmental group is demanding similar access to Russian, Chinese, or Indian COVID vaccine technology, even though there is no convincing reason to be dismissive of these products. Expectations that manufacturers around the world could, due to reduced IP protections, “freely” and independently make versions of existing COVID-19 vaccines within months are simply unrealistic. Indeed, there is no such thing as a “generic vaccine,” as some IP waiver proponents expect. Any resulting products would inevitably differ in quality, safety, and efficacy, and would not be approvable without running new rounds of expensive and time-consuming clinical trials. This inefficiency would be exacerbated by the diversion of scarce raw materials away from up-and-running manufacturers to inexperienced, first-time producers, who would produce at lower efficiency (at least initially) and, indeed, often in regions that lack biologics-manufacturing infrastructure. Such supply diversions, and the resulting inefficiencies, would only make it harder to maintain current global vaccine production, and worldwide COVID vaccine output would decline, not grow.

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