USPTO releases updated study on participation of women in the U.S. innovation economy

Press Release from United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today released “Progress and Potential: 2020 Update on U.S. Women Inventor-Patentees,” a follow-up to its 2019 report on U.S. women inventors. The new report updates the previous findings based on a review of an additional nearly one million issued patents and three years of new data, and it provides further insights into the participation of women in America’s intellectual property systems.

The report’s numerous findings include:

  • More women are entering and staying active in the patent system than ever before.
  • The number of patents with at least one woman inventor increased from 20.7% in 2016 to 21.9% by the end of 2019.
  • The “Women Inventor Rate”–the share of U.S. inventors receiving patents who are women–increased from 12.1% in 2016 to 12.8% in 2019.
  • The share of women among new inventors on issued patents increased from 16.6% in 2016 to 17.3% by 2019.
  • The gender gap in the number of women inventors who remain active by patenting again within five years is decreasing. For the most recent group of new inventors, 46% of women patented again in the next five years versus 52% of men.
  • Among the leading patent filers, the 3M Company showed the largest improvement in the participation of women inventor-patentees: Their average increased from 15.2% over 2007- 2016 to 16.6% for 2007-2019.

“This report is a great achievement for the USPTO and an important steppingstone for women in America’s intellectual property systems,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “The USPTO has remained committed in their efforts to support women in innovation, and this positive momentum will continue to create a more inclusive intellectual property community.”

“Today’s report from the USPTO further highlights the important contributions of women to American innovation,” said Deputy Secretary of Commerce Karen Dunn Kelley. “I applaud the USPTO for their support of women inventors and their work to encourage women to take advantage of our nation’s intellectual property protections, the gold standard for the world. Everyone benefits when women fully participate in our innovation ecosystem.”

“The good news is that efforts to increase the participation of women in the intellectual property system continue to yield results,” said Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. “To retain our nation’s edge as a global innovation leader, we need even broader participation in patenting. That’s why the USPTO has made outreach to underrepresented groups a top priority. We will continue to work with industry and academia to expand participation in the innovation ecosystem. We will also shine a spotlight on the accomplishments of past and present women inventors, and inventors from other underrepresented groups, to inspire a new generation to participate in innovation.”

Access the full report on the USPTO website.