New USPTO Council Aims to Strengthen U.S. Innovation By Increasing Participation of Underrepresented Groups

“It is critical that industry, academia, and government work together to strengthen our culture of innovation by encouraging the participation of young people from diverse backgrounds.” –  U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross

USPTO Innovation Council


The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced yesterday a major initiative to “build a more diverse and inclusive innovation ecosystem by encouraging participation demographically, geographically, and economically.” Dubbed the National Council for Expanding American Innovation (NCEAI), the project includes 29 representatives from industry, academia, and government, and was conceived based on recommendations made in the USPTO’s 2018 SUCCESS Act study and congressional report transmitted to Congress in December 2019.

The 2018 SUCCESS Act was introduced by Representative Steve Chabot (R-OH) to “direct the United States Patent and Trademark Office, in consultation with the Administrator of the Small Business Administration, to study and provide recommendations to promote the  participation of women, minorities, and veterans in entrepreneurship activities and the patent system.” As part of the process for developing a report making legislative recommendations, the USPTO held a number of hearings on the topic, and many inventors testified that high cost and weakened patent laws have exacerbated the problem of underrepresentation.

“It is critical that industry, academia, and government work together to strengthen our culture of innovation by encouraging the participation of young people from diverse backgrounds,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in yesterday’s press release. “Through the National Council for Expanding American Innovation, we plan to develop a national strategy for promoting and increasing the participation of underrepresented groups as inventor-patentees, entrepreneurs, and innovation leaders.”

Ross; USPTO Director Andrei Iancu; Jovita Carranza of the U.S. Small Business Administration; and Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan, Director, National Science Foundation, are the federal government representatives on the Council.

According to the Council’s website, its mission is to help the USPTO “develop a comprehensive national strategy to increase participation in our innovation ecosystem by encouraging, empowering, and supporting all future innovators. That includes increasing the involvement of women and other underrepresented groups.”

The NCEAI will create strategies around how to increase participation in the innovation ecosystem and will release periodic updates, such as the Council’s “Progress and Potential” report on women inventor-patentees, which updates the USPTO’s 2019 report of the same name.

The NCEAI is inviting the public to submit comments with “ideas, programs, and policies that will boost innovation in America” by email to [email protected].

Join IPWatchdog Virtual CON2020 later today for a panel – The Gender Gap: Addressing STEM Education, Funding & Inventorship – that will explore many of the issues the NCEAI is intended to address in more detail.



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Join the Discussion

12 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for George]
    October 24, 2020 12:57 am

    @ mike

    Exactly!!! It’s all become a giant scam now (at least for inventors of ordinary means). If you can’t make it and sell your invention yourself, there’s no point in getting a patent on it anymore because whether you’re able to get one or not, is mostly up to ‘luck’ and the whims of your examiner! If he/she doesn’t want you to get (broad) protection, you won’t get it – period!

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    September 18, 2020 11:47 am


    Your question appears to be disingenuous.

    What exactly are you trying to say?

  • [Avatar for Benny]
    September 17, 2020 02:37 pm

    “Inventions & patents are something that realistically can now only be pursued by the 1% of rich & powerful in America! ”
    I woder why it is such an expensive pursuit? Anyone here care to explain why obtaining a patent costs upwards of 10 grand? Surely not the USPTO fees.

  • [Avatar for George]
    September 17, 2020 02:19 am

    @ Chris

    Unfortunately, there’s a great deal of evidence that now supports your statement! In fact, it is all but impossible for young women AND men to ever become full-time, independent, and prosperous inventors now (if that was ever really possible)!

    There has never been any time in history (except maybe the Middle Ages) when things have been so bad for aspiring inventors and entrepreneurs! There has never been any time before when ‘small entities’ have gotten treated so badly by the PTO (compared to large entities and ‘monopolies’).

    I don’t really consider corporate inventors – real inventors – because they function as just other (replaceable) ’employees’, who do what they are told to do or are expected to do (and nothing outside of that)! They have no real creative freedom, no rights, no risks, no skin in the game, and get no equity in their own inventions. They also have all expenses paid for by their employers and have a huge safety net if they fail. They are paid the same, whether they succeed or fail. All things which ‘real’ inventors never get, unless they are successful scientifically, legally & commercially, all at the same time (a very tall order). So not something to be expected of young people or any self-employed people at all. But, you can’t be a ‘clock punching’ inventor – you just can’t!!! It’s almost an oxymoron!!!

    Yet, that’s all the PTO is really ever referring to now – corporate inventors & their employers – because they KNOW the IP system can no longer work for ‘ordinary Americans’ who may only have ordinary means, regardless of their talent for in invention! They KNOW those inventive Americans are on their own! No support from their government at all. No grants, no stipends, no awards!

    The PTO is now basically telling aspiring young inventors: “Want to be an inventor??? . . . then prepare to go bankrupt and to suffer and starve . . . because we, the PTO and the U.S. government, don’t ever intend to help you out!”


    Inventions & patents are something that realistically can now only be pursued by the 1% of rich & powerful in America! Not the 100% of Americans, which was (undeniably) originally ‘intended’ by the Founders. From the very founding of our country, IP rights were supposed to apply equally to ALL Americans and were even ‘guaranteed’ in the Constitution, to all those deserving them! The Constitution never mentioned lawyers or the need to have sacks of money, in order to get and protect them!!! That’s not true anymore! That’s obvious!!!

    The days of a poor person being able to become an affluent or even rich person and create a large number of new jobs, by just inventing a new technology or process, are long gone. It’s all more of a joke (or myth) now, along with the American Dream in general! One more rung of the (unique) American economic ladder gone and probably never coming back (except maybe in China)!!!

  • [Avatar for George]
    September 17, 2020 01:32 am

    @ Harald

    First: The experts wouldn’t be allowed to be active inventors or work for, or with, any potential competitors or companies involved in invention at all, or any entities which could present a potential conflict of interest at any time (even years later). Most would therefore be tenured academics, having little or no interest in business (or ever needing to seek employment elsewhere).

    Second: Why not have, say, ‘actual physicists’ or chemists decide if an invention is using physics or chemistry correctly, and if an invention’s description and claims are sufficient, clear enough, and actually valid or at least plausible?! Why not have them, say, expose perpetual motion devices (which are still now being issued patents), or chemical compounds which aren’t actually new, or can’t work as claimed?

    Such decisions could always be allowed to be appealed!

  • [Avatar for mike]
    September 17, 2020 01:23 am

    @Jonathan Stroud
    This is nothing but a distraction of the real problem facing underrepresented inventors. It will only serve to fool inventors that there is a benefit to pursuing a patent, so they will file for more patents that they cannot protect.

    So no wonder you like this program. This means more of your efficient infringer subscribers will have easy pickings when it comes to stealing ideas, and also more business for you.

    This whole diversity thing is just a ploy by the government to pat themselves on the back, to the detriment of the very underrepresented inventors they say they want to help.

  • [Avatar for Jonathan Stroud]
    Jonathan Stroud
    September 16, 2020 01:05 pm

    This is a great idea and a good program.

  • [Avatar for Harald]
    September 16, 2020 09:28 am

    Re: George. Yes, “You ask a panel of ‘real’ experts in each field what they conclude.” A panel rigged with experts from Google, Apple and Microsoft like the PTAB. Perfect for Big Tech, but a nightmare for the small inventor.

  • [Avatar for George]
    September 16, 2020 01:07 am

    @ Pro Say

    We need to return to a time when inventions were ‘significant’ advancements of science – not just minor improvements or trivial ‘gizmos’ with little value to society. In fact ‘scientific significance’ should replace ‘obviousness’ as the key test for patent eligibility. How do you know you have it? You ask a panel of ‘real’ experts in each field what they conclude. Not examiners, not lawyers, not judges & definitely not ‘lay juries’ (some with only high school educations)! It takes experts (or computers) to decide what are true advances in science & technology, and what aren’t! We don’t need millions more of overlapping patents, that then have to be searched, analyzed, combined and then used against new applications. We need DISTINCT and UNIQUE inventions, at least! And software is almost never distinct or unique! THAT’s why most software shouldn’t be allowed patents! Besides, patented software is trivial to get around.

    Keeping algorithms secret is the way to protect software! It’s also a LOT cheaper! You can also copyright the binary code (which is absent comments) and even encrypt THAT and THEN copyright it (with the key needed to decrypt it and prove origination kept secret)!!!

    We don’t need more ‘crappy’ patents on everything! Who wants that?! We need ‘great inventions’ and inventions that have little question as to their true origins and authorship (the way things used to be)! We need inventions that are actually worth something and can create lots of jobs!

  • [Avatar for George]
    September 15, 2020 11:32 pm

    Will definitely submit my (somewhat radical) ideas for greatly reducing the cost of obtaining ‘strong’ & ‘easily enforceable’ patents, that can all be ‘guaranteed’ to have been evaluated equally, fairly, consistently and ‘reproducibly’ without individual BIAS of any kind . . . “That’s your opinion, Applicant – NO, it’s just physics, Examiner!”

    The era of one examiner deciding one way with one set of prior art (or multiple searches), and another deciding the exact opposite using a different (or limited) set of prior art, must end!

    The era of big companies being assigned seasoned & primary examiners, while small entities are assigned to ‘rookies’ for YEARS, for their ‘practice’, must end too!

    Also the HUGE variation in allowance rates among examiners doesn’t even make any legal or scientific SENSE! There should be no more than a +/- 5% variation in this (and even that wouldn’t be very good)! That is NOT a fair or objective system of judging innovation, and results in the loss of billions of dollars of valuable technological advancements every year – which then just go to foreign competitors for free!!!

  • [Avatar for Pro Say]
    Pro Say
    September 15, 2020 09:30 pm

    ““Through the National Council for Expanding American Innovation, we plan to develop a national strategy for promoting and increasing the participation of underrepresented groups as inventor-patentees, entrepreneurs, and innovation leaders.”

    If and until such time as Congress and / or SCOTUS comes to its respective senses by restoring patent eligibility to all areas of innovation (without adding new and unnecessary innovation-killing patenting requirements / hurdles), this “strategy” needs to come with one big asterisk:

    * WARNING: Unless, that is, your invention / innovation involves, requires, or even suggests the utilization of the internet, a computer, or nature; in which case you need to expect that your invention / innovation will be stolen right out from under you once you publicly reveal it.

  • [Avatar for Chris]
    September 15, 2020 02:14 pm

    The USPTO is in no position to suggest to my daughters that their innovative ideas, once patented, will be protected. My kids understand that a US patent today is more liability than it is an asset.