Patent News

Jul. 24, 2018

Fast Company: Women of color are less likely to get patents for their work

This post originally appeared in Fast Company on July 24, 2018.

In today’s installment of unsurprising-yet-still-depressing news: Women of color, particularly black and Hispanic women, are less likely to obtain U.S. patent rights than white women and men.

That’s according to a new report from the Institute of Women’s Policy Research, a Washington think tank, which found that “people of color are particularly unlikely to hold intellectual property.” The news is particularly frustrating, because black and Hispanic women are leading the charge in a growing wave of new female-owned businesses over the last two decades. Women-owned firms grew from 847,000 to 1.1 million between 1997 and 2015, according to the study.

But those women, by and large, can’t get patent protection for their products and processes. Overall, less than 19% of patents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had a female inventor listed,according to the most recent data, compiled in 2015, as Bloomberg notes. It’s particularly troubling because the report also shows a link between patents and the success of a business.

Of course, women are used to this same-old same-old malarkey and aren’t letting it slow down their hard work. The report found that “despite being less likely to hold intellectual property rights than men, women-owned businesses still report actively engaging in innovative activities and generally do so at rates at least as high as men-owned business.”

The revolution doesn’t need your stinking patents.