In 2018, Congress passed the Study of Underrepresented Classes Chasing Engineering and Science Success (SUCCESS) Act to authorize an investigation into the demographics that participate in our patent system. The final report, delivered in October 2019, provided some predictable results. Working with limited raw data and third party literature on the topic, the report concluded that despite a promising uptick in women’s percentage of patenting (from about 3% in 1976 up to 12% in 2016; p.8), women and minorities are still underrepresented before our patent system in comparison to nationwide population statistics in ways not entirely explicable by economic or education backgrounds (p.13). Furthermore, it identified that not only are corporations the largest filers for patents but also present some of the lowest women participation rates (p.2).
Late this past month, the USPTO launched its Expanding Innovation Initiative, one of its first projects born from the SUCCESS Act to help bridge these gaps. Along with the SUCCESS Act report itself and other statistical references, the Initiative presents a number of materials designed for would-be inventors and experienced practitioners alike to foster innovation. For the former, the Initiative offers a free accessible crash-course in the fundamentals of patent prosecution, hoping to “demystify” the patent system for those intimidated by the Office’s stern formalities and rigorous procedures. For the latter, the online repository provides various toolkits to jumpstart potential mentoring or community outreach programs to better enable those who are willing to extend a helpful hand. In these kits, you can find a Quickstart guide and some sample paperwork to set up your own program either within your current business or in your larger community.
So whether you’re a backyard inventor looking to get started on protecting your idea or a successful IP practitioner or inventor looking to encourage others down that path, we at Aurora invite you to engage these brand new resources at the USPTO.