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Associations Suggest Strategies for More Inclusive Patent and Innovation System

February 26, 2021

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CONTACTS
Christa Wagner, Senior Legislative Analyst
Stephen Heinig, Director, Science Policy

The AAMC joined three other higher education associations to recommend ways that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) could strengthen the nation’s innovation system to be more inclusive and diverse.

The Feb. 23 comment letter was submitted in response to a public request for information from the USPTO’s National Council for Expanding American Innovation, which seeks to increase the number of women, people of color, and people from other backgrounds in the pool of patent applicants and recognized inventors.

Joining in the comment letter were the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR). In encouraging the council’s mission, the groups wrote, “Several of our member institutions have already initiated programs to promote and track invention disclosures and other entrepreneurial activities by diverse groups of students, post‐doctoral scientists, staff, and faculty.” 

The associations recommended that the USPTO develop and make available more comprehensive national data on the demographics and geographic backgrounds of patent applicants. Better metrics would aid academic institutions in benchmarking and evaluating the progress of their own efforts to increase invention disclosures from women, people of color, people with disabilities, and veterans among their faculty, trainees, and campus technical personnel.

The groups also recommended that the USPTO work in concert with other federal science agencies to strengthen programs that support technology transfer and commercialization initiatives to provide “more robust pathways to invention and patenting.”

The USPTO said that the public comments received from the request will be used in developing a national strategy for expanding innovation. The council was established as part of the USPTO’s response to the 2018 SUCCESS Act (Study of Underrepresented Classes Chasing Engineering and Science Success, P.L. 115-273), which the AAMC also endorsed [see Washington Highlights, Sept. 7, 2018].

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