Study: Increase in Patents and Trademarks for Women

By Julia at Legal Language
Posted on 05/10/2012
In Intellectual Property

A recent study commissioned by the National Women’s Business Council found that the number of women awarded patents and trademarks has increased greatly over the last several decades.

The report analyzed data obtained from the United States Patent and Trademark Office from 1975 to 2010.

The patent office does not ask applicants about their gender. In order to ascertain the number of female applicants, the study looked at the number of female names attached to patent and trademark applications, paying particular attention to the uncommon names of Chinese, Korean, Indian, Japanese and European origin for accuracy. Then the group zeroed in on specific industries in which women entrepreneurs were receiving the most patents and trademarks.

Patent Applications

A patent is a form of intellectual property reserved for new and novel inventions. The patent affords the owner the sole right to make, use or sell the invention.

From 2009 to 2010, the number of patents awarded to women went up almost 35 percent. Between the years of 1986 and 1993, women obtained patents at the highest sustained rate. The rate was slowest between 1999 and 2006.

The study revealed that the rate at which women are becoming primary inventors is “accelerating,” especially in emerging high-tech industries. There was a 101 percent increase from 2008 to 2010 in women being awarded patents in electrical computers and digital processing systems. Women-owned patents saw the most increase in categories such as chemistry and bio-affecting drugs.

The ratio of successful female patent applicants to male patent applicants varies by year. For example, in 2010, approximately 18 percent of all patents were given to women, a 4 percent increase from a decade earlier.

The data also suggests that women are more likely to be independent entrepreneurs and keep their patents, while men tend to lead research for businesses and corporations. Interestingly, of the total number of patents with at least one woman inventor from 1975 to 2010, more than 75 percent of those assigned were assigned to non-governmental organizations.

Trademark Applications

A trademark is a different form of intellectual property that protects distinctive symbols and words that identify and represent a company or product. Trademark rights give the owner the exclusive right to use the mark, and to prevent others from using marks that are confusingly similar.

Women have participated in successful trademarks at a significantly higher rate. In 2010, women obtained more than 33 percent of all trademarks granted, compared to 16.5 percent in 1980. In those 30 years, the percentage of trademarks granted to women doubled.

Some industries showed a higher participation by women entrepreneurs. These included advertising and business, clothing, education and entertainment, scientific and technological services, and paper goods and printed matter. The rise of scientific and technological services shows that women are playing an increasing role in this sector.

Increase in Entrepreneurship?

The report may indicate that women are increasingly turning to entrepreneurship as a source of income. News outlets also suggest that during the current recession, there has been an upswing in entrepreneurship, as the downturn pushed laid-off workers to pursue their passions.

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