US senators have proposed measures to address the challenges faced by female and minority patent applicants in the US. According to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), a mere 12% of patent inventors in the US are female.
Under the proposed Inventor Diversity for Economic Advancement (IDEA) Act of 2019, the USPTO would be obliged to collect and collate demographic data from patent applicants on a voluntary basis. It would then be obliged to produce reports on this data. These reports would be made public.
The Chair of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on IP, Senator Thom Tillis, drew attention to figures stating that a female inventor is listed on a mere 21 percent of all patents filed in the US. Meanwhile, Caucasian graduates are making patent applications at twice the rate of African American and other minority graduates.
Senator Tillis said “we must work to close this gap to ensure all Americans have the opportunity to innovate, and I am proud to introduce this bipartisan, bicameral legislation to get a better understanding of the background of individuals who apply for patents with the USPTO.”