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Women U.S. Patent Holders Increase Sharply in 2010

Donna James (National Women’s Business Council)

Donna James (National Women’s Business Council)

The number of women obtaining U.S. patents in 2010 increased by 35 percent compared to 2009, according to early results of a study commissioned by the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC). The study by an independent research company examined patents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) between 1975 and 2010.

Preliminary results of the study show 22,984 patents were granted to women in 2010, a gain of 35 percent over the 17,061 patents awarded to women in 2009. Some 16,321 patents were issued to women in 2008 according to the early data.

New legislation calls for USPTO to track patents by gender, but in the past that information was not collected by the agency. To establish the gender of patent holders, the research company Delixus Inc. tapped into resources from the Census Bureau, Social Security Administration, and commercial sources. The commercial data were helpful in assigning names of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Spanish, German, and French patent holders. NWBC says about six percent of the names in patent disclosures could not be identified as male or female.

“Patent and trademark ownership often is an indicator of entrepreneurial activity,” says Donna James (pictured right), NWBC chair, “and historically, women have not been a large segment of this group. A bump in [intellectual property] ownership could indicate strong growth in women-owned companies.” Details of the full report, which will include numbers on women, patents, trademarks over time and by industry, are expected to be released in early March.

NWBC is a nonpartisan federal advisory council created to serve as an independent source of advice and policy recommendations to the president, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration on economic issues of importance to women business owners. It is made up of 15 women business owners and leaders of women’s business organizations.

Read more: America Invents Act Signed Into Law

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