Patents

Addressing the IP Gender Gap

This series of virtual events will take a look at the IP gender gap in the Americas region. Political leaders, heads of IP offices, economists, and scholars will discuss how best to attract underrepresented groups to use the patent system, what data needs to be collected in order to understand the gap, and how to interpret new and existing data in order to develop solutions that will help close the gap.

The High-Level Policy panel will take place on 13 October, 5:30-6:30pm CET // 11:30am-12:30pm EDT // 8:30-9:30am PDT.

The IP Economist panel will take place on 14 October, 5-7pm CET // 11am-1pm EDT // 8-10am PDT.

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Lack of diversity in patent holders means ‘half of the population’ isn’t getting needs met, economist Lisa Cook says

Diversity gaps in the U.S. patent system persist, in part, because of an absence of data on patent applicants. This lack of transparency has meant that patent holders are predominantly white, male and wealthy.

A recent study found that women, especially African-American and Latina women, obtain patents at significantly lower rates than men; people of color get approved for patents less often than white people; and individuals from lower-income families are less likely to acquire a patent than those who grew up in affluent families.

“Throughout history, women and underrepresented minorities have not been able to participate fully in each stage of the innovation process,” Lisa Cook, a professor of economics and international relations at Michigan State University. 

The inclusion of these underrepresented groups would evidently also have a positive impact on the economy and would increase U.S. GDP by 2.7% per capita, and by roughly $1 trillion annually. The economic activity from patents is estimated to be over $8 trillion, more than one-third of U.S gross domestic product. 

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Gender gap in US patents leads to few inventions that help women

The economist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Rembrand Koning, reasoned that the relative scarcity of women’s health products on the market is due to a scarcity of women inventing them. A study published in June confirms this theory: few biotechnology patents are owned by women, and female inventors are significantly more likely than are male ones to patent health products for women.

Teams made up of all women, were 35% more likely than all-male teams to invent technologies relating to women’s health. But teams made up of all women or all men were equally likely to patent technologies for men’s health. If women and men had produced an equal number of patents since 1976, the researchers estimated, there would be 6,500 more female-focused inventions today. 

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Panelists Discuss Why Patent Waiver Would Not Accelerate Global Vaccine Distribution

At a panel held in June by The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA), two vaccine scientists, Professor Robin Shattock (Imperial College, London) and Dr. Anne Moore (University College Cork) discussed their thoughts on why a patent waiver related to COVID-19 vaccines would not speed up vaccine distribution in lower income countries.

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EPO announces winners of the European Inventor Award 2021

The European Patent Office’s European Inventor Award 2021, which took place on June 17th, celebrated outstanding inventors and inventor teams from Europe and beyond.

At the ceremony, the winners were announced for each of the five categories: Industry, Research, SMEs, Non-EPO countries, and Lifetime Achievement.  These winners were selected by an independent, international jury. The public was also invited to vote for their favourite inventor from among the 15 finalists in the Popular Prize.

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Spotlight on South Africa: 10 Questions for Biovac’s Patrick Tippoo

Innovation Council sat down with Patrick Tippoo, the Head of Science and Innovation at The Biovac Institute in South Africa to learn more about its activities and innovations.  Established in 2003 in Cape Town, Biovac was created to distribute, manufacture, and develop vaccines and biologics for Southern Africa.  Patrick, who has been with Biovac since its establishment, has more than 30 years in the industry.

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The Long Wait for Innovation: The Global Patent Pendency Problem

Mark Schultz and Kevin Madigan write in their informative, and still very pertinent, 2016 paper about patent pendency issues and the reasons for, and possible solutions to, the problem. Many patent offices simply lack sufficient examiners to handle the increasing volume of patent applications, and there are deficiencies in both processes and infrastructure. One possible solution is increasing the number and qualification of examiners; many countries are already prioritizing the hiring of new examiners to tackle patent delay and backlog problems. Work sharing is another option. Patents are increasingly filed in multiple jurisdictions, and this duplication creates the opportunity to share work or expedite applications that have already been granted by recognized jurisdictions. Yet another proposed solution is the removal of obstacles to final grants. Some countries insert additional procedures and reviews in between application and grant: India, for example, has a redundant pre-grant opposition procedure, while Brazil subjects pharmaceutical patent applications to double review by both its patent office and its drug regulator. Such procedures should be re-considered in light of the substantial cost of the delays they introduce, and, where they are redundant, they should be eliminated.

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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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