Pro Bono News

Closing the Patent Gap

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Closing the Patent Gap

"The statistics paint a stark picture. There is a patent gap in this country, whereby women and minorities are underrepresented in the ranks of inventors holding patents. This is not a new phenomenon, but one which has attracted more attention lately. Especially in this age where increased entrepreneurship is embraced as the solution to a host of economic problems, an increased focus on making sure that female- and minority-owned businesses participate in the patent system is not surprising. And where more resources and attention are being dedicated to increasing female/minority education and opportunity in the hard sciences, there is a natural hope that there will be increased patent activity from these new participants in the innovation-driven economy of today.

A recent Bloomberg article helps frame these issues, even as it focuses on the more acute challenges faced by minority women in having their patent issuance rates meet their admirable progress in starting up new businesses. As the article notes, however, not only is it helpful to frame the problem — we are also beginning to see efforts to find solutions arise. At the forefront of these efforts is the recently launched Cardozo Patent Diversity Project, which aims to “to build relationships with governments, agencies, local, state and national bar associations, premier technology organizations and entrepreneurial networks” in the hopes of building a “sustainable network of pro bono lawyers for patent work both now and in the future.” Funded by Google, and arising out of the experiences of Cardozo’s own Tech Startup Clinic, the Patent Diversity Project is an interesting foray into trying to address the systemic disadvantages facing women- and minority-owned businesses when it comes to securing patent protection. More than just an interesting example of an alliance between an academic institution and a publicly traded company looking to act on social interests, the project is interesting for a few reasons — starting with its focus on serving traditionally underrepresented applicant pools in terms of seeking patent protection..."

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