Access to IPRs

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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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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Gender mainstreaming enhances women’s representation in inventions

In her article for the International Women’s Day 2021, Carolina Torres-Sarmiento pays tribute to female inventors and their contribution to social developments, and draws attention to the glass ceilings they had to break on their way to success. Gender gaps in science and technology are, unfortunately, still very present. Data extracted from patent offices in the US and the UK, as well as the ‘She figures (2018)’ EU report, show the necessity of more equal representation in the patent system. Multiple actions can be considered, such as enhancing women’s representation in all fields of science and technology, reducing the gender gap in STEM education, encouraging female recognition in patent applications, increasing the involvement of women in business and innovation processes, and promoting awareness to prevent gender bias in emerging technologies.

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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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Closing the Gender Gap in Intellectual Property (IP)

Jennifer Brant, Executive Director of Innovation Council, Co-author of “Policy Approaches to Close the Intellectual Property Gender Gap – Practices to Support Access to the Intellectual Property System for Female Innovators, Creators and Entrepreneurs”, spoke in a sharing session on “Women and IP” organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

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Enhancing Intellectual Property Management and Appropriation by Innovative SMEs

This one-pager by the Innovation Council explains the importance of sound IP management for SMEs, including complementary and hybrid strategies and recommendations for governments. To read more about innovative SMEs, click through the Innovation Council gallery for World IP Day 2021 here.

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International Women’s Day: Actions to help women entrepreneurs

This infographic from the Innovation Council highlights five strategies to address the gender gap in IP and encourage innovation. Among the strategies identified are better data collection, projects to connect girls and women to IP, and targeted programs to encourage women to pursue careers in IP law.

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Challenges for women entrepreneurs & strategies to address the gender IP gap

Innovation Council prepared these slides to raise awareness regarding five challenges that contribute to the IP gender gap. You can read about actions to address the IP gender gap here.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has commissioned a study, which is to be released shortly, for the purpose of identifying policies that enhance access to the intellectual property (IP) system by women inventors, creators, and entrepreneurs. While stating that it is not yet possible to identify a list of “best practices” in this area—due simply to a low level of research on the subject to date—the authors pinpoint a number of promising programs for the advancement of women in the IP system. They distill both a short list of barriers to women’s success in this arena and a lineup of possible next steps towards surmounting each of them.

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International Women’s day: Women in Innovation event

On 8 March, join a panel discussion on “Women in Innovation: Providing leadership, creating solutions, and driving change,” at the Africa Health International Agenda Conference. The session is co-organized by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC), and the Innovation Council.

Many of the speakers will have made an impact in their communities, or regionally and/or globally, by thinking differently and driving change through innovation and creativity.

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