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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new coalition will work to change the status quo among U.S. patent holders, who are largely white males, and introduce more diversity in inventing and patenting, according to an announcement shared exclusively with Axios.

Why it matters: The patent diversity gap limits opportunities for the majority of Americans and leaves the U.S. with less innovation serving a narrower population, advocates say.

The big picture: Invent Together, the new campaign launched this week, argues that increasing the number of women, people of color and low-income individuals who patent would "help close wage gaps, increase the GDP and lead to new and different inventions."

What's happening: Invent Together will promote public policy to support more diversity among inventors and aim to research and raise awareness about the lack of diversity in patenting, the group told Axios.

  • Activities will include social media campaigns, congressional briefings and lobbying for policies that support the initiative's goals.
  • Group members are the Institute for Women's Policy Research, AnitaB.org, the Association of American Universities, Qualcomm and other organizations.

What they're saying: "People are more focused on issues of diversity because of coronavirus, and its impact has laid bare some of the existing problems we face as a country related to race and gender," Holly Fechner, a partner at Covington & Burling and executive director of the coalition, told Axios.

  • "We've focused our attention on so many important issues like education and health care, but not nearly enough attention has been placed on diversity and inclusion in the innovation economy."

By the numbers:

  • A July 2020 study from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office concluded that while the rate of women inventors and patenting has grown slightly since 2016, only 22% of U.S. patents list a woman as an inventor.
  • Black and Hispanic college graduates in the U.S. have half as many patents as white college graduates, according to the American Bar Association, and higher-income Americans are likelier to patent inventions than those in lower-income brackets.

Meanwhile, on Monday, the USPTO kicked off its own new effort, the National Council for Expanding American Innovation, with a goal of understanding the diversity gap in American patenting and innovation.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include the source for data on the race and income breakdown of patent holders.

Go deeper

Dec 1, 2020 - Podcasts

Nasdaq exec Jeff Thomas on new diversity rules for listed companies

The Nasdaq today said it will ask federal securities regulators to approve new rules that would require its listed companies to regularly report on the demographic diversity of their boards, and also comply with board diversity requirements.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper with Jeff Thomas, Nasdaq's senior VP of corporate services, to learn why Nasdaq is enacting this policy, the internal discussions that led to it and what happens to companies that don't comply.

Ohio sues Biden admin over reversal of Trump-era abortion referral ban

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. Photo: Justin Merriman/Getty Images

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration Monday over a Trump-era ban on abortion referrals that President Biden overturned earlier this month.

The big picture: The lawsuit aims to reinstate two measures included in the 2019 legislation that required federally funded family planning clinics to be "financially independent of abortion clinics," and refrain from referring patients for abortions.

Oklahoma Supreme Court temporarily blocks abortion restrictions

A pro-choice activist demonstrates outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 4, 2021. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday temporarily blocked three abortion restrictions set to take effect on Nov. 1.

Why it matters: The laws would place new limits on medication-induced abortions and require doctors who perform abortions to attain board certification in obstetrics and gynecology.

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