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HSCF Intellectual Property Blog

When considering developing your idea into a solution, learn how to protect your innovative solutions and what organizations can provide support.

Intellectual property is anything such as art, literature, designs, and inventions that can be categorized as creations of the mind. Intellectual property is an important concept to understand in any business setting, but especially in STEM settings, because of its role in the business world with its protective measures. Intellectual property is how you protect your creative ideas. This is extremely important in acknowledging the work done by individuals, especially women, in the STEM world. Intellectual property can be protected through patents, copyright, and trademarks. Patents deal with the creation of inventions and gives the creator the right to decide how and when the invention is used and by whom the invention is used. Copyright is used to discuss the literary and artistic creations of the mind and the creator’s rights. Trademarks are used by actual companies to differentiate the company’s inventions—goods and services—from their competitors. What’s the takeaway from these three definitions? The owner and creator of the “creation of the mind” gets all of the rights.

This concept is important to keep in mind when thinking of the representation of women in intellectual property patents. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) released a report in 2019 describing the demographic and amount of female patent owners between the 1970’s and 2016. In 2016, only 21% of all U.S. patents had a female inventor listed. However, the percentage of all-female named inventors on patents is much bleaker. There were only 4% of U.S. patents that named only women as inventors and creators over the past decade. Essentially, this means that women must rely on co-ed patent teams in order to get representation in the U.S. intellectual property STEM world. Women have the most representation in biological sciences, with women making up 48% of the workforce. However, in engineering fields, women are only represented 11-14% of the workforce. This lack of representation can and should be pinpointed back to the representation of women in STEM majors at universities and colleges. Even though women may start off representing 30-40% of a school’s engineering class, that does not mean that all of the women will graduate with that major. Many women drop out, and that is what first needs to be addressed. Women can do STEM too, and so we must first start by encouraging and supporting women in college to stay in those STEM programs. 


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