House Small Business Committee Tackles Diversity Gap in Patenting Debate

“The systemic issues faced by minorities in the patent commercialization system for decades has not only created but continued to sustain the diversity gap. How can we expect to increase diversity in patenting and commercialization if historically the system has not been built for minorities to participate or succeed in general?” – Janeya Griffin

The House Small Business Committee met earlier today for a hearing titled “Enhancing Patent Diversity for America’s Innovators,” in which members of Congress heard from witnesses on ways to improve the sizeable patenting gap that exists for women, minorities and low-income individuals. As of 2016, less than 20% of U.S. patents listed one or more women as inventors, while under 8% listed a woman as the primary inventor; only six patents per million people were attributed to African American inventors; and children born to high income families are ten times more likely to obtain a patent than children from below median income families, said Committee Chairwoman, Representative Nydia Velázquez (D-NY).

The Committee’s Ranking Member Steve Chabot (R-OH) introduced the Study of Underrepresented Classes Chasing Engineering and Science (SUCCESS) Act in 2018 to “direct the United States Patent and Trademark Office, in consultation with the Administrator of the Small Business Administration, to study and provide recommendations to promote the  participation of women, minorities, and veterans in entrepreneurship activities and the patent system.” A key finding of that study was that there simply isn’t enough publicly available data to guide and support legislation that will foster inclusive innovation, said Velazquez. For that reason, Velazquez introduced the Inventor Diversity for Economic Advancement Act

(IDEA Act) with Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH) last year. That bill seeks to direct the USPTO “to collect demographic data – including gender, race, military or veteran status, and income level, among others – from patent applicants on a voluntary basis.”


Provide On-Ramps and Address Cost

The witnesses at today’s hearing included Andrea Ippolito of W.E. Cornell, a program at Cornell University that helps women to navigate the innovation and commercialization processes. Ippolito reiterated the grim statistics: women make up just 12% of all patented inventors, which means that if the current trend continues, “it will take an estimated 116 years to reach gender parity in patenting,” Ippolito said. Meanwhile, “if women, minorities and low-income individuals were to invent at the same rate as white men from high income households, the rate of innovation in America would quadruple,” she added.

While the number of women in STEM programs is increasing, these numbers have failed to translate to patenting. “The real gap comes from the rate of women involved in patent- intensive fields like electrical and mechanical engineering,” said Ippolito, since 85% of patents go to private industry. “More women seek patents in the academic sector than private industry. It’s a vicious cycle; lack of women in these fields mean a lack of mentors, role models and sponsors.”

A major factor in achieving parity in patenting is addressing cost, according to Ippolito. The cost of obtaining a patent can range from $5,000 to $20,000, depending on the complexity of the technology involved, and that cost “almost always falls directly on the inventor” in the case of individual inventors, said Ippolito. The burden is even heavier for women due to the gender wage disparity and lack of access to venture capital or seed stage investment, and because women continue to bear disproportionate responsibility for child rearing. Women point to childcare costs as a key barrier to patenting, whereas male academics actually increase patent activity with parenthood, according to Ippolito’s research.

Ultimately, Ippolito made three recommendations to the Committee:

  • The federal government should consider directing resources to establishing programs that provide on-ramps dedicated to increasing women and minority exposure to the patent and commercialization process. These resources should be directed to sectors in which women are currently pursuing patents, such as the academic sector, as well as to bringing women into patent intensive fields. The Small Business Administration and the USPTO should create a joint initiative to create funds for on-ramp programs focused on women and minorities.
  • These programs should be feeders to existing entrepreneurship initiatives in the communities, universities, or region.
  • Address the cost of applying for a patent. Tailored programs and initiatives should consider specific funding for patent support to cover the cost of applying and hiring counsel.

The Importance of Data

Dr. Rashawn Ray of the Brookings Institution and Associate Professor of Sociology and Executive Director of the Lab for Applied Social Science Research at the University of Maryland College Park, emphasized the importance of collecting demographic data in advancing policy. “A lack of demographic data leads to bad science, does a disservice, and inhibits the United States’ ability to continue to be innovative and comprehensive,” said Ray. He added that a lack of data might lead to misallocation or misplacement of funds and stressed the importance of documenting regional patterns in addition to other types of demographic data. “Geography becomes a key metric,” said Ray. “Zip code is often used as a proxy for income, wealth and race; a proxy can be just as detrimental as not collecting information.”

The Root of the Problem

Janeya Griffin of The Commercializer, who manages and sells NASA’s IP, focused on the more deeply rooted, systemic obstacles facing underrepresented groups. She said that lack of education, lack of resources, and lack of access are the three biggest reasons minority entrepreneurs fail to receive patents. Griffin explained that her road to success came with the help of a government program geared to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that has since been defunded. “Black inventors receive six patents per million people compared to 235 of their white counterparts,” said Griffin, who said role models such as Marion Croak, a black woman who holds over 200 patents, should be highlighted and elevated. “The diversity gap is not just an inclusion issue, it’s an exposure to generational wealth through patent commercialization and access issue,” Griffin said. She continued:

For decades, our country’s laws have placed minorities in positions where they’ve had to choose their life over their IP, even at one point being considered property themselves. Economist Dr. Lisa Cook discusses the correlation of declining minority patents during the Jim Crow and Race Riot era, having lost over 1,000 patents. 100 years prior, in 1710, the Meritorious Manumission Act of Virginia gave slave owners the right to grant their slaves freedom in exchange for their inventions. Hence the systemic issues faced by minorities in the patent commercialization system for decades has not only created but continued to sustain the diversity gap. How can we expect to increase diversity in patenting and commercialization if historically the system has not been built for minorities to participate or succeed in general?  Why not fund more certificate programs like the one I went through? If we’re truly focused on increasing diversity of patents we must invest in education, access and equity at the highest level in the most marginalized communities.

Programs in Progress

The final panelist was Rick Wade of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who said that while the statistics are a concern, they are also an opportunity, since minority communities have higher shares of women-owned enterprises. The USPTO recently updated its homepage with local resources to assist inventors and will launch a council this year for innovation and inclusiveness to develop a national strategy for promoting and increasing participation of underrepresented groups, said Wade. The Office is also working with other departments to develop training materials to help elementary, middle and high school teachers to incorporate the concepts of invention and IP creation into classrooms. Wade further noted the various legislative recommendations in the SUCCESS Act report released last year, including Congress potentially authorizing a biennial survey of individuals named in patent applications and expanding the authorized uses of grants and funds to include activities that promote innovation and entrepreneurship. The Chamber has also stepped up its efforts in this area, said Wade, through programs such as the Next-Gen Business Partnership with HBCUs.

The Broader Issues

Representative Tim Burchett (R-TN) asked the panelists if they’d encountered many minority and small inventors who had complained about having their inventions stolen by larger companies. Griffin and Ippolito said they had, anecdotally, and Ippolito mentioned the Inventor Rights Act, which was introduced in December by Representatives Danny Davis (D-IL) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ). If passed, the bill would give inventors who own their own patents the ability to opt out of validity trials held at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).

Those commenting in real time on the hearing’s live stream page seemed to agree that this was one of the major deterrents to patenting for them. Nekita Sisk commented “My biggest fear is creating an idea and having a big company (I work/ worked for big companies) steal my tech idea.” Jeff Hardin, who has been active in the SUCCESS Act hearings and on the Inventor Rights Act, said that “big companies WILL STEAL your idea in today’s patent system…. They will INVALIDATE your patent.”

The VC Vortex

Another major stumbling block for underrepresented groups is access to venture capital funding. Velazquez noted that “today, 2.2% of venture capital is received by women and under 3% of Blacks and Latinos were VC-backed founders.” Additionally, women hold less than 20% of U.S. tech jobs and only 5% are in leadership at tech companies, while African Americans hold less than 15% and Latinos 14%.

Wade explained these numbers in part by noting the obvious: investors are attracted to patents, and minorities seem largely unable to get patents. Griffin cited a statistic showing that there is a 53% increase in chances of securing VC funding with one’s first patent. The Chamber is working on mentor protégé programs to build relationships between VCs and innovators from minority communities, Wade said.

Ippolito added that VCs “are overwhelmingly white males” who say they get to know entrepreneurs through introductions. “If you’re not embedded in these networks you can’t get an introduction or funding,” Ippolito said. Furthermore, the VC pitching process has been optimized for men. In one example, a researcher looked at male versus female entrepreneurs and recorded their voice with the exact same content for VCs, and the men were consistently seen as a more attractive investment.

More Must Be Done

Finally, Representative Jared Golden (D-ME) highlighted problems with language barriers and lack of translation services. Maine has seen sizeable growth in first-generation Somali immigrants and asylum seekers who own small businesses, but because of a language gap often cannot access the resources they need. Golden asked if the USPTO had translation services for non-English speaking patent applicants, but none of the panelists were aware of any.

“Clearly, more must be done to address diversity,” Velazquez said.

Join IPWatchdog in Dallas on March 17 during CON2020 in a panel titled The Gender Gap: Addressing STEM Education, Funding & Inventorship, where we will delve further into these issues.



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Join the Discussion

37 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for Paula Murgia]
    Paula Murgia
    January 19, 2020 04:11 am

    Great reportage, Eileen!
    Thank you for continuing to draw attention to the cause, that it is in the best interest of Congress to restore Inventor Rights.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    January 18, 2020 02:08 pm

    All I see from you is more emotion.

    Frankly, just not persuasive.

  • [Avatar for angry dude]
    angry dude
    January 18, 2020 01:05 pm

    Anon @34


    I know much more than you about federal government contracting – being there for a while – complete sh1t and corruption

    There is a lot of outright corruption there or what they call double-dipping – when a federal officer awards contracts to some commercial entity for a while and then .. boom he/she retires from federal service and gets a high-paid contractor’s job with same (or financially-related company) or some close relative gets a very lucrative job somewhere

    This is hidden corruption which they try to make look legal (it is not if duly investigated)

    But in this particular case HIGH CORRUPTION and abuse of office is on the surface and she can only hide behind “minority shield” – don’t poke at me or you’ll be in a lot of trouble…

    That is all to it


  • [Avatar for Anon]
    January 18, 2020 09:29 am

    angry dude,

    Sure, I know what conflict of interests are.

    Do you?

    Do you know big such is the case here? Do you know the contents of the contract with the person? Do you know that it may well be standard practice to seek contracts with those so knowledgeable in the field that they (already have) their own entrepreneurial enterprise (so, um, yes, ‘in the same field’ is NOT the ‘poison’ that you appear to think it to be).

    Has your anger consumed you beyond any reason that you so immediately jump to ‘bad’ conclusions?

  • [Avatar for angry dude]
    angry dude
    January 17, 2020 06:06 pm

    Anon @32

    “…enterprising (government) contractor and entrepreneur…”

    All in the same area (of government tech transfer?) ?

    Dude, do you know what conflict of interests is ?

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    January 17, 2020 05:00 pm


    Do you have a link, or is there some reason why it appears that her role with NASA has ended?

    A fresh google of “NASA Janeya Griffin” yields the prominent link of:

    I am not sure I would have jumped as you have – she sounds like an enterprising contractor and entrepreneur (rather than the ‘shade’ you appear to want to cast).

  • [Avatar for angry dude]
    angry dude
    January 17, 2020 04:28 pm


    I hate to agree with you… but you are probably right

    But I do not believe that financial industry players fearing business method patents were the main driving force and sponsor behind US patent system destruction – all this bs about covered business method patents was added later on their request

    It is pure tech – BIG TECH fears little guys can come up with some fundamental technologies to threaten their monopolies

    My patent is on cell phone internals and it is very close to hardware – e.g. can be part of an ASIC

    The EBay Scotus decision came almost immediately after Blackberry patent saga – I was following it closely – that’s why they decided to strip little guys of injunction power

    To add insult to injury they used completely unrelated and non-technical business method patent litigation (MercXchange vs Ebay) to make a legal precedent and f%^& the rest of us – small techies with technical patents

    Well, fool me once – shame on you, fool me twice – shame on me

  • [Avatar for Eileen McDermott]
    Eileen McDermott
    January 17, 2020 12:40 pm

    She’s a contractor according to her linkedin profile – I was quoting her directly, that is what she said in the hearing – that she now manages NASA’s IP.

  • [Avatar for Jam]
    January 17, 2020 12:36 pm

    angry dude @12

    Agree that congress will not act any time soon.

    Disagree that if congress acts it will be an insignificant patch. Rather, it will likely further protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority (Big Tech being the “minority” and small inventors being the “majority” because the number of Big Tech companies is smaller than the number of small inventors). Congress is likely still beholden to the narrative that “bad patents” (particularly “business method patents” that may affect the financial industry) may trigger a financial crisis if the legislation is not “done right”.

  • [Avatar for LLDC]
    January 17, 2020 11:35 am

    Does the speaker, Janeya Griffin of Commercializer work for NASA or is a contractor? Her website is very misleading to her role (which appears to have ended) with NASA. Or, she is allowed to use her Government job to support her outside business. IPWatchdog may want to correct its article.

  • [Avatar for Martin Nguyen]
    Martin Nguyen
    January 17, 2020 03:24 am

    I believe you are referring to Asians who are like Alibaba or Asians who are currently working for large companies, i.e. my brother who now works for a big tech company, and is listed as a co-inventor(multi-times). Obviously, he himself does not need to worry about protecting or defending his “co-patents”, or who will invalidate those patents. But for independent inventors, we do need a better protection.

  • [Avatar for angry dude]
    angry dude
    January 17, 2020 12:58 am

    Overit @2
    “…patents and VC funding”


    small correction:

    “patents OR VC funding”

    That’s where we are today…
    The last time I talked to a VC type (a year ago) he was like living in the early 2000s when patent filings were a must…. I hope he kept his money

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    January 16, 2020 09:18 pm

    Presumptions of tacit approval and “silence is consent” are unfounded, and only show a lack of understanding (and presence at – for example – patent attorney gatherings). I know of NO peers of mine that can be said to support, even tacitly, the ongoing destruction of the once strong patent right as a means of innovation promotion.

    Paul M, when YOU paint with such a broad brush as to impugn the profession as a whole (even as you appear to recognize the difference between litigators who may litigate patent cases and (true) patent attorneys, you LOSE any possibility of being incredulous at incredulousness being expressed FOR your far too broad statements.

    You appear instead to be indulging yourself in an emotional moment.

    I “get” emotion.

    I do.

    But as I point out to (certain) others, emotion that blinds reason may easily be turned into a mouthpiece for the types of entities that prompt the emotion in the first place.

    Don’t be an Efficient Infringer mouthpiece (so far you have not), but also, don’t bite those that ARE interested in serving clients in the efforts to protect innovation.

  • [Avatar for angry dude]
    angry dude
    January 16, 2020 07:21 pm

    Paul Morinville@20

    “patent attorneys show support for the status quo”

    I beg to differ…

    If they spoke out for the status quo things would be a lot different today

    Back in 2006 we had patent injunctions etc.

    Since then US Patents System was consistently brought down year after year…
    WITH tacit approval by patent attorneys

    So directly or indirectly US patent attorneys support(ed) the biggest patent system abusers – probably because some of them are their (past, present or future – they hope) clients but i have no idea why and that is not my business

    BUT they will not have my business again and that’s for sure

  • [Avatar for Paul Morinville]
    Paul Morinville
    January 16, 2020 06:33 pm

    Anon, As much as I respect the few who do comment here (and I certainly do respect you and curious), there are only a few and even fewer who cast off anonymity to stand and be counted.

    It is not at all incredulous to state the simple fact that the vast majority of the patent bar is silent and accepting of the destruction of the US patent system and that the majority of patent attorneys do not inform their clients of that later fact.

    It is more incredulous that I am accused of being incredulous at all.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    January 16, 2020 05:59 pm

    Paul M,

    It is more than a bit incredulous for you take that position and ignore MOST patent attorneys that partake here.

    Please step back and use a little reason.

  • [Avatar for angry dude]
    angry dude
    January 16, 2020 05:55 pm

    Patent attorneys ridiculed me here some 13 years ago when I predicted almost exactly what would happen to 230-year old US Patent System…and guess what ? it has happened !!!

    Fast forward to 2020 – US Patent System is DEAD.. dead and stinking

    When you go to a patent attorney in the field of your invention (e.g. mechanical devices or electronics or computer hardware/software or biotech etc etc) and they can’t even tell if your invention is patentable subject matter or nor that means the system is DEAD

    Forget about novelty and non-obviousness … they can’t even tell you if it’s patentable subject matter or not … just pause for a few seconds to grasp the meaning of this…

    To the morgue then…

  • [Avatar for Paul Morinville]
    Paul Morinville
    January 16, 2020 03:52 pm

    Curious, Patent attorneys do speak what someone argues that a patent is valid, but that is not the problem.

    The problem is that patent attorneys do not speak out against the PTAB, Oil States, eBay, Alice, etc. to Congress, the courts, the USPTO, the press…


    Instead, patent attorneys show support for the status quo. Consider the PTAB show trials at the AIPLA meeting. This show trial implies consent since it is sponsored by the AIPLA and not a single patent attorney stood against it.

    Inventors were there…

  • [Avatar for Curious]
    January 16, 2020 03:40 pm

    Patent attorneys are not for fixing it. It is that simple.
    You think patents having little value are in our best interest? BTW, don’t confuse patent attorneys with patent litigators. Two different practices, two different animals.

    As for the voices, every time you hear somebody argue, before a court, that a patent is valid, you’ve heard our voice.

  • [Avatar for Eileen McDermott]
    Eileen McDermott
    January 16, 2020 02:47 pm

    The Committee did not raise the topic and this was strictly a report on the hearing. Many reasons for Asian patenting rates – the main one I think being linked to higher overall wealth compared with other minority groups, hence the inclusion of “low-income” as a separate category from race and gender. I don’t recall anyone arguing that non-white people cannot succeed; I think the point is that it is often harder for them overall, for a myriad of reasons, and there are concrete ways to mitigate those and level the playing field.

  • [Avatar for Paul Morinville]
    Paul Morinville
    January 16, 2020 02:29 pm

    Curious. “patent attorneys aren’t the ones that screwed the system up.”

    I beg to differ. Most were either for it or silent, which is for it. If patent attorneys were for fixing it, they would say something and the combined voice would fix it.

    Patent attorneys are not for fixing it. It is that simple.

  • [Avatar for Paul Morinville]
    Paul Morinville
    January 16, 2020 02:26 pm

    Curious. Where is the outrage from the patent bar?


    There are a few who are honest. You are one. But the vast majority are silent. Silence is consent.

  • [Avatar for Curious]
    January 16, 2020 01:47 pm

    Oh … and as to the issue raised by this article, the percentage of non-white guys getting patents probably follows in lockstep with percentage of non-white guys in STEM jobs. And that probably closely correlates with the percentage of non-white guys getting STEM degrees, which probably closely correlates with the percentage of non-white guys (who are high school students) who are looking to enroll in STEM degree programs in college. Increase the interest level of non-white guys coming out of high school in STEM, and you’ll see an increase in patents to non-white guys (with about a 8-10 year delay).

    People have talking about that same issue (increasing the level of interest in high school students) at least since I came out of high school (about 35 years ago, give or take). If it was an easy issue to address, it would have been accomplished a long time ago.

    BTW: The examiner corp of the US Patent Office has probably a greater percentage of non-white guys (and by a substantial amount) than most companies. As such, I doubt there is some systematic bias against non-white guys at the USPTO. In my many years of prosecuting, I have never sensed a particular bias by examiners against any particular class of inventors.

    Not that this issue isn’t important, but it is an issue whose scope extends much farther than patent law and solutions to which are not rooted in patent law. Moreover, there are bigger issues, in patent law, that have a great (negative) impact — not just on the classes of people discussed but on all classes of people.

  • [Avatar for Curious]
    January 16, 2020 01:30 pm

    People with integrity who are honest would not. But patent lawyers need to make money, so they do not tell their small clients that no patent system exists in the US to protect them.
    Please don’t paint patent lawyers with the same broad brush.

    I have long commented upon the patent system being dead for solo inventors/small businesses. I don’t take small clients (I have just one and I have lost money on the representation), as I feel uncomfortable taking money from people when I know that the system is set up against them, and the end product will very likely not be worth what they paid. Also, when I do have an opportunity to talk with aspiring inventors, I do inform them of the difficulty in enforcing (as well as obtaining) a patent (as I politely decline any attempts to engage me on their behalf).

    Also, patent attorneys aren’t the ones that screwed the system up. You need to talk to the judiciary about that. I know of very, very few patent attorneys that stopped being a patent attorney to take another job. With all the hoops it takes to be one, one you’ve become one, you’ve pretty much committed yourself for the rest of your career.

  • [Avatar for Luis Figarella]
    Luis Figarella
    January 16, 2020 07:15 am

    Thank you Eileen, can’t wait to meet you at the CON.

    As someone with a practice heavily weighed towards small inventors and minorities, I am proud that my 1st issued patent for a client, back in ’07 (US 7,241,384), was to a woman (As the father of a daughter, y’all better realize I am a feminist!).

    That being said, I wonder about the stats (sorry). It may be easy enough to ID gender for names, until you encounter some Asian and even East European names. Some of my (and the Hon. Velazques) fellow Boricua’s have FULL anglo-rican names like Edmond Wallace and Larry Owen, yet are more Boricua that the notorious Coqui frog.

    I sure am proud to be brown, but not sure you can tell Marcos’ skin color from Elizabeth’s (being my spouse, and co-inventor, I can :-), although as has always happened to my children, I wonder if ‘Elizabeth Figarella’ (US 8,238,949) was even counted as a hispanic or as a Sicilian? (It comes from Corsica, close ‘nough).

    So yes please, collect the data. Where you ‘jump’ from the data, we can chat some other time (Hopefully in Dallas!).


    PS I’d say we could bring things like this to the PPAC discussions, but it’s hard when you don’t even get a telephonic interview after you apply for it. (OK, I feel better now)…

  • [Avatar for angry dude]
    angry dude
    January 15, 2020 11:43 pm

    Anon @5 @6


    You do realize that what you call “efficient infringers” (sounds like “bugs” you can squash) are in fact huge multinational conglomerates which at present have iron grip on US government – on US Congress in particular

    Congress is not unified of course… but when it comes to money, lobbying money in particular, they all stand together as one

    NO, I do not think US Congress will act any time soon.. and even if they do it will be insignificant patch just for PR all the while leaving major fundamental issues broken as they are today…

  • [Avatar for Paul Morinville]
    Paul Morinville
    January 15, 2020 10:42 pm

    Ipdude. “Why pull more innocent people into this mess.”

    People with integrity who are honest would not. But patent lawyers need to make money, so they do not tell their small clients that no patent system exists in the US to protect them.

    They play on their dreams in a worse way than a used car salesman.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    January 15, 2020 09:37 pm

    Maybe someone should suggest to this committee that if the Court insists on turning the personal property right of a patent into a Public Franchise property right, then an easy answer to this ‘lack of funds to enforce’ is to simply declare that enforcement costs MUST be carried by the FranchisOR (that is, the government).

    If we are going to change the fabric of the patent Quid Pro Quo, then it makes sense that the government maintains “rights” after Grant, then they pay for that “honor” and act like responsible FranchisORs.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    January 15, 2020 09:25 pm

    As I recall, IPWatchdog covered something similar a little while back.

    The general gist there still applies: forget about the PC angle, and make patent protection meaningful again.

    We do not need more studies on “Isms.” We need to put Efficient Infringers in check and put some teeth back into protecting innovation.

  • [Avatar for IPdude]
    January 15, 2020 07:54 pm

    Patents are nothing more than expensive wallpaper. They are unenforceable, so who cares? Why pull more innocent people into this mess. Haven’t minorities been taken advantage of enough? Let the patent office find another way of funding its corrupt PTAB. Stay away from the patent system. The world belongs to big tech.

  • [Avatar for Jeff Hardin]
    Jeff Hardin
    January 15, 2020 07:51 pm

    Also, 20 women, minority, and veteran inventors who testified at the USPTO SUCCESS Act hearings wrote in to Rep. Velazquez.

    They state:
    “[T]he USPTO excluded our testimony from the report that the agency issued to Congress on October 31, 2019. While it is disappointing that the USPTO silenced our voices, we are nevertheless hopeful that you and other Members of Congress will consider our views and experience going forward.

    An overwhelming majority of the inventors who testified identified difficulty with enforcing our patents, risk of PTAB invalidations, and efficient infringement as obstacles to participating in the patent system. As one witness put it, ‘what good is a patent if one cannot defend it?’ We have attached samples along with copies of our testimony with this letter. We respectfully ask that this letter and attachments be submitted for the record of the hearing to be held on January 15, 2020 – Enhancing Patent Diversity for America’s Innovators.

    The report that the USPTO issued to Congress on October 31, 2019 did not include any Legislative recommendation to address these problems we raised. To add insult to injury, the USTPO instead recommended that Congress could ‘issue a commemorative series of quarters and postage stamps…featuring American inventors from a variety of backgrounds, including those from underrepresented groups.’ We asked for reliable patents and the USPTO recommended postage stamps! Some of the other recommendations by the USPTO may prove useful, but we are the underrepresented inventors and entrepreneurs you seek to help, and we can tell you precisely how to accomplish the SUCCESS Act objectives.

    Women, minorities, and veterans must be encouraged to innovate, and the patent system must be repaired so it is actually ‘securing to [women, minority, and veteran] inventors the exclusive right to their discoveries’. Article I Section 8 of the Constitution. This includes preventing the USPTO from double-crossing inventors by revoking our issued patents at the request of corporate infringers, and providing tougher penalties for stealing inventions.”

    The letter is here:

  • [Avatar for Jeff Hardin]
    Jeff Hardin
    January 15, 2020 07:46 pm

    Thanks Eileen.

    “What good is a patent if you can’t defend it?” – Patricia Duran, Latina woman who testified in the SUCCESS Act hearings.

    Here’s the conversation from the House Small Business Committee hearing pertinent to one’s ability to defend a patent affecting the incentive to apply for a patent.

    Mr. Burchett: “I’m wondering if any of y’all have ever heard of anybody has an improved patent, but they haven’t been able to maintain it because a larger company stole their idea.”

    Janeya Griffin: “I have spoken with a few people who have those same sentiments. … When you’re looking at an independent patent inventor, they don’t necessarily have those funds to actually fight in litigation and to go up against big corporations, and so there’s nothing that they can do, I mean, outside to just coming to legislation, talking to their congressman or congresswoman.”

    Dr. Rashawn Ray: “Yeah, I’ll quickly say, Lonnie Johnson, who we mentioned before who, pretty much every kid has played with a nerf gun or a Super Soaker, I mean, he actually had to litigate and go to court because and the patents actually helped to preserve that for him, and I think that’s what’s key. Is that it’s a longer torrid history of, particularly individuals who are under-resourced, women and minorities, having their inventions stolen from them. … That impacts the application process. A lot of individuals who simply will opt out of that process, because of the money, and because they are worried about getting scooped from large companies.”

    Andrea Ippolito: “[I]n speaking with folks that have gone through the patent process and that are repeat offenders — and I use that in a positive way of those that are applying for more than one patent — they hear these stories. And, to Dr. Ray’s point, if they learn and hear of their colleagues and peers, that have to go to court and litigate, which sometimes it can cost up to a couple hundred thousand dollars, if not more, then then this deters them from submitting more patents. So I think we need to fix this. I believe there is a group of inventors that have the Inventor Rights Act, and and there’s a lot of talk in this arena from inventors that I’ve spoken with.”

    Mr. Burchett: “You know, I feel like — we’re the dad-gum Congress — we ought to do better by working folks that come up with these innovative ideas, because I hear about them stolen. I know this lady back here, I appreciate that. [Burchett recognized a woman in the audience indicating it has happened to her.] I’ve heard it many times.”

  • [Avatar for happy dude]
    happy dude
    January 15, 2020 06:54 pm

    Thank you for letting us know about this important national conversation.

  • [Avatar for Judge Rich's Ghost]
    Judge Rich’s Ghost
    January 15, 2020 06:52 pm

    All idiots. All politics.

  • [Avatar for Flud]
    January 15, 2020 06:48 pm

    “African Americans and Hispanics also apply for patents at nearly half the rate of whites as compared with Asian American and Pacific Islanders, who seek patents at nearly double the rate of white men”

    Why do we care about the black-white gap but not the black-asian or white-asian gap?

  • [Avatar for Overit]
    January 15, 2020 06:28 pm

    I’m not surprised the article fails to mention asians, who are almost certainly over-represented in patents and VC funding. After all, it would spoil the propaganda to learn that non-white people can succeed/

  • [Avatar for angry dude]
    angry dude
    January 15, 2020 06:05 pm

    “…and children born to high income families are ten times more likely to obtain a patent than children from below median income families, said Committee Chairwoman, Representative Nydia Velázquez (D-NY).”

    I am speechless…

    Are they really idiots or just pretending ?

    There is no point to even respond to this bs