USPTO Proposes National Strategy to Incentivize Inclusive Innovation

“The stated goal of facilitating commercialization in particular may seem contradictory to some, considering the Administration’s recent proposal to expand the scope of march-in rights under the Bayh-Dole Act”

Source: USPTO National Strategy for Inclusive Innovation

The United States Patent and Trademark (USPTO) today announced a “National Strategy for Inclusive Innovation” in advance of a World IP Day event being held on Capitol Hill.  The Strategy was developed with support from the Council for Inclusive Innovation (CI2) and, according to a USPTO press release, “aims to lift communities, grow the economy, create quality jobs, and address global challenges by increasing participation in STEM, inventorship and innovation among youth and those from historically underrepresented and underresourced communities.”

As part of its strategic plan for fiscal years 2022 through 2026, the U.S. Commerce Department in 2022 tasked the USPTO with collaborating with the CI2 and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to help independent inventors and small businesses obtain resources through other agencies to promote the commercialization of their inventions, as well as obtain both U.S. and foreign IP rights for protecting those inventions.

Today’s Strategy focuses on four key “cornerstones”: 1) Inspiring new generations of innovators; 2) Educating and empowering innovators; 3) Advancing inclusive innovation across government and other areas; and 4) Bringing innovation to market. In order to facilitate these broad goals, the report also makes 11 specific recommendations:

  1. Standardize and scale youth innovation education (Cornerstone 1)
  2. Provide resources, training, and support to empower educators to teach innovation (Cornerstone 1)
  3. Provide youth coaching, mentoring, and career awareness to foster and support long-term interest and capabilities in innovation (Cornerstone 1)
  4. Expand research opportunities to a broad and diverse set of institutions in higher education (Cornerstone 2)
  5. Foster innovation and entrepreneurship learning and experiences in post-secondary education (Cornerstone 2)
  6. Provide post-secondary mentoring and internship opportunities to enable innovation (Cornerstone 2)
  7. Encourage and support an inclusive workforce across public and private organizations (Cornerstone 3)
  8. Cultivate innovation more broadly and equitably in organizations that innovate, including academic research institutions (Cornerstone 3)
  9. Equitably facilitate IP protection for all innovators and entrepreneurs (Cornerstone 4)
  10. Make entrepreneurship resources and support available to all (Cornerstone 4)
  11. Leverage and expand commercialization support and tech transfer for all (Cornerstone 4)

USPTO Director Kathi Vidal said in a statement that the strategy “provides a call to action and roadmap to achieve innovative success.”

The strategy also complements the National Entrepreneurship Strategy recently released by the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE), of which Vidal is a co-chair, and which includes “recommendations for how the U.S. Department of Commerce, the federal government, and the private sector can foster an entrepreneurship ecosystem that ensures the United States leads in critical technology innovation.”

Is the USPTO Undermining Its Own Goals?

The stated goal of facilitating commercialization in particular may seem contradictory to some, considering the Administration’s recent proposal to expand the scope of march-in rights under the Bayh-Dole Act. Some IP stakeholders noted this contradiction following the Office’s recent request for comment seeking “input on what more the Agency can do to accelerate and incentivize commercialization of innovation” more generally. “If the administration were really interested in incentivizing innovation, they’d focus on bolstering the law that is the backbone of America’s tech transfer system: The Bayh-Dole Act,” wrote Chris Israel, Executive Director of the Alliance of U.S. Startups & Inventors for Jobs, in an op-ed for IPWatchdog.

Today’s Strategy explains that venture capital funding is not evenly distributed to the under-represented inventor communities. It cites to studies from 2017 and 2018 that found that 2% of venture capital was invested in startups with exclusively female founders, 1% of venture capital was invested in companies with Black founders, and less than 2% was invested in companies with Hispanic founders.

According to the report, those numbers are getting worse, not better. “In 2023, less than 0.5% of venture capital dollars were invested in businesses with Black founders” and White men controlled 93% of the venture capital dollars, said the report.

But Israel pointed out in his op-ed on the USPTO’s RFC that if the Biden administration moves forward with its march-in framework, “many venture capitalists will stop investing in efforts to commercialize federally funded technologies.” This could presumably make the inequities even worse.

IPWatchdog Founder and CEO Gene Quinn said that increasing federal funding to help underrepresented communities innovate might not be helpful if the framework becomes final. “Ironically, by exercising march-in rights where products are actually on the market and not being shelved the government will make it less likely that the private sector will license anything from the federal government because the risk is just too great that if you do accept the extraordinarily modest funding Uncle Sam provides, patent rights will be stripped,” Quinn explained. “That will make doing a patent deal with the federal government a game of Russian Roulette.”

The Strategy concluded by calling on organizations across all sectors of the innovation community to collaborate “to collect and disseminate information, best practices, and resources.”

 

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Join the Discussion

10 comments so far. Add my comment.

  • [Avatar for Jan Healzer]
    Jan Healzer
    May 3, 2024 05:31 pm

    Race,Gender,Name should never have anything to do with patent ability! The pie chart separates Americans, while raising issues that scream injustice. This is not what innovation is about.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    Anon
    May 3, 2024 11:40 am

    PeteMoss,

    Do you not know that Asian and Indian success are dismissed as being “White adjacent?”

    Identity Politics has no place, no rightful place, and yet, here we are.

  • [Avatar for PeteMoss]
    PeteMoss
    May 3, 2024 12:48 am

    Business only cares about one color and one gender. Green paper with a dead white men printed on it. Ideas that do not contribute to EBIT each and every earnings quarter are not supported in profitable companies.

    Patent filings are not a proper metric of innovation. Innovation requires a saleable idea, not just a patentable idea. Increasing the breadth of inventors by increasing participation/interest in STEAM is a good idea, and might even generate some more dusty, unused patents; however, increasing engineers does not accomplish the intended goal of innovation inclusion. To participate in innovation, STEAMers also have to possess creativity, which is an innate trait. For every 10 new women engineers, maybe half will get a patent or two in their careers. But only 1 or 2 will be innately creative enough, on a sustainable basis, to make a recognizable contribution to EBIT. No different than men.

    Lastly, I find it interesting that the USPTO conspicuously excludes from the NSII other minority cohorts, such as Americans who have Asian and/or Indian ancestries. Maybe instead of scapegoating White guys, someone should look at what the Asian & Indian cohorts are doing correctly.

  • [Avatar for B Stanton]
    B Stanton
    May 2, 2024 05:58 pm

    There is an inherent conflict built into the position of the “Director of the USPTO” and the “UnderSecretary of Commerce for IP.” As Director, one is tasked with managing a 13,000 person government organization and meeting Congressional goals for examination of patents and trademarks. On the other hand, the UnderSec is a political advisor to the President for IP matters. These two roles creates a conflict where manifesting public policy and political direction may be in tension with the objective management of IP examination system. The UnderSec also has to balance against other IP power players like the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Things like “equity,” “fairness,” and even STEM initiatives have nothing to do with patentability and Trademark standards.

    It might have been a mistake to put the 2 roles together under the AIPA, but that is where we are. Unless the “Director” starts making progress on patent quality and enforceability, the system will continue to degrade. Patents and trademarks will be useless for small inventors and simply placeholders for large cap entities.

    The UnderSec needs to take greater care or the Golden Goose will stop laying eggs.

  • [Avatar for Don Baker]
    Don Baker
    May 2, 2024 02:56 pm

    As an older disabled inventor, living in HUD Section 8 housing, with 9 Pro Se patents granted, 2 pending & several more in mind, I can’t get out to promote or sell anything, and don’t have the skills or time for customers. The standard SBA help emphasizes things like business plans, not my forte. I’m sitting here with inventions that could change an industry. But the industrial climate I’m working in has no special need to license new patents, no matter how good.
    I need partners who can do the business things that I can’t, and have no good way to find them. That’s missing from all these programs – a way to put inventors with limited means together with honest and reliable partners.

  • [Avatar for F22strike]
    F22strike
    May 2, 2024 10:11 am

    The “National Strategy for Inclusive Innovation” signals that the abhorrent and discriminatory principles of DEI have officially become the focus of the USPTO.

    There is nothing in 35 USC that even hints that patentability should be based on race, gender, and/or ethnicity or that US patents should be granted to achieve an enlargement of sectors on pie graphs depicting race and gender.

    In fact, with this strategy the USPTO is doing a disservice to the so-called historically disadvantaged individuals that it is coddling.
    If one of them manages to obtain a US patent and, against all odds, achieves commercial success, competitors will spring up and will copy the product. After several hundred thousand dollars are spent on legal fees, the infringed claims of the patent will be cancelled in at least one of a serial string of IPRs. Years of effort and millions of dollars in product development and marketing will go down the drain.

    I can foresee that under the USPTO’s National Strategy for Inclusive Innovation examiners will favor allowing claims in an application where the named inventor is “Garcia” versus “Worthington”, for example. Perhaps the same subtle bias will extend into IPR proceedings. Time will tell.

  • [Avatar for Julie Burke]
    Julie Burke
    May 1, 2024 09:54 pm

    If America’s Innovation Agency really wants to “protect our national security, and preserve our global economic competitiveness,” Director Kathi Vidal might take a closer look at these hastily issued, light examined patents arising from first action allowances for watchlisted Chinese entities before affixing her name beneath the USPTO seal.

    https://www.linkedin.com/posts/julie-burke-492264120_national-strategy-for-inclusive-innovation-activity-7191486203517362176-aIOE?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_desktop

  • [Avatar for Josh Malone]
    Josh Malone
    May 1, 2024 07:10 pm

    Number 0 — stop taking back patents from inventors.

  • [Avatar for Pro Say]
    Pro Say
    May 1, 2024 04:54 pm

    Pshaw. While certainly a worthy strategy overall, the critically-important #9 is mere bablum for the masses. It needs to be replaced with:

    9. Taking concrete steps and implementing policies to help restore America’s crippled patent system wherever possible (Congress has their part to play as well) including by: 1. Minimizing the ability of the Death Squad PTAB to take away the very same patents the Patent Office’s Examiners already approved; 2. Not increasing fees for small and micro entities; 3. Stop doing the bidding of Big Tech and China.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    Anon
    May 1, 2024 04:52 pm

    Virtue Signaling.

    Nothing more.

    (IF the Administration were actually serious, they would be pushing Congress to improve the eligibility mess (without any large wooden horses).

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