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Posts Tagged: "IDEA Act"

IDEA Act Added as Amendment to U.S. Innovation and Competition Act

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) this week filed the United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 as a substitute amendment to the Endless Frontier Act, thereby bringing that bill together with a number of other bipartisan bills, including the Inventor Diversity for Economic Advancement (IDEA) Act, which passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee last month. The IDEA Act is aimed at improving the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) demographic data-gathering efforts to better understand the rates at which women, people of color, and lower-income individuals are inventing and patenting. The Innovation and Competition act is primarily aimed at out-competing China in critical technology sectors.

IDEA Act Passed Out of Senate Judiciary Committee

The full Senate Judiciary Committee today passed the Inventor Diversity for Economic Advancement (IDEA) Act, which seeks to direct the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) “to collect demographic data – including gender, race, military or veteran status, and income level, among others – from patent applicants on a voluntary basis.” Representative Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH) reintroduced the bill in March of this year;  Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL) are also co-sponsors.

Why the IDEA Act is a Bad Idea

As previously reported on this blog, a bipartisan group of senators recently reintroduced a bill in Congress called the “Inventor Diversity for Economic Advancement Act of 2021,” or the ‘‘IDEA Act,’’ S.632; H.R.1723.  The Senate Committee on the Judiciary is scheduled to hold its hearing on the IDEA Act this Thursday morning.  Citing a report that “only 22 percent of all U.S. patents list a woman as an inventor,” the sponsor’s press release explains that the bill’s purpose is “to close the gap that women, minorities, and others face when procuring patent rights in the United States.” To advance this putative goal, the bill adds Section 124 to the Patent Act that will require the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to annually collect and report personal demographic data from patent applicants including “gender, race, military or veteran status, and any other demographic category that the Director determines appropriate, related to each inventor listed with an application for patent.”  Accordingly, the USPTO Director would be granted plenary authority to collect information on “any other demographic category” such as those the sponsors have already identified in their previous version of the bill, namely: ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, age, disability, education level attained, and income level…. Unexpectedly, however, this bill would actually harm small business and underrepresented inventors. As explained below, this legislation is contrary to patent law; it proposes a dangerous method for injecting identity politics at the USPTO, where it never has nor should play any role, and where there is no evidence that the USPTO has displayed prejudice or discrimination.

Industry Groups Urge Quick Passage of Reintroduced IDEA Act

Representative Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH) yesterday reintroduced the Inventor Diversity for Economic Advancement Act (IDEA Act), which seeks to direct the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) “to collect demographic data – including gender, race, military or veteran status, and income level, among others – from patent applicants on a voluntary basis.” Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) are co-sponsors of the legislation.

House Small Business Committee Tackles Diversity Gap in Patenting Debate

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).