While men still outnumber women greatly as patented inventors, there is still some great news about those numbers changing: inventions by women now account for 18 percent of all patents, which is twice the amount recorded in 1990. They are also one third of all trademark owners, which is also twice as many as there were 30 years ago. The National Business Women’s Council also uncovered several instances of women whose names were on older patents, but were not identified by gender. The U.S. Patent Office doesn’t identify its inventors by gender, so does that mean there could be even more who aren’t getting the recognition they deserve?
Since those who apply for patents are not asked their gender, the numbers found by the NBWC were from the U.S. Census and Social Security numbers, since that information is part of the application. And after coming up with the present-day numbers, it was discovered that there were many more instances of female inventors than previously thought.
“An increase in patent and trademark ownership may indicate growth in women-owned companies,” says council Chairwoman Donna James. “Very little research has specifically studied women business owners and intellectual property.”
Gaining a patent or a trademark can mean more money from investors who can turn one person’s small business into something much, much bigger. Lisa Price, the owner of one such business, Carol’s Daughter, it’s all about owning your name: “You’re coming to the table with your name and your brand, and they’re coming to the table with their equity.” Another factor is that many patents and trademarks don’t go on to be assigned to larger companies; women simply go into business for themselves.
Then again, the increase in numbers could also be explained by something less interesting: a backlog. Yup, sometimes there’s just a lot of bureaucratic red tape — and procrastination — at hand. Regardless of what it is, perhaps this will encourage more research into women inventors and their business dealings. Women inventors like, oh, I don’t know, Hedy Lamarr.
(via Bloomberg Business Week)