In July of 2021, the United States Intellectual Property Alliance (USIPA) launched The Diversity Pledge, which encouraged companies to use patent data as a way to visualize who is participating in their innovation and inventorship processes and more importantly who is not. Today, more than 50 major companies in the United States and Europe have signed the pledge to understand and address the issue of underrepresented inventors (URI) within their organizations and to facilitate more participation in the innovation ecosystem so that all people and ideas in the United States have an opportunity for success. Additionally, more than 25 law firms, consulting firms, and academic institutions have signed on as pledge supporters to provide their assistance as part of the innovation ecosystem.
Some of the founding Pledgees, which include Meta, Lenovo, Adobe, AT&T, HP, Cisco, and Microsoft, each made a three-year commitment to learn about one or more groups of underrepresented inventors and identify opportunities and ultimately create best practices to promote equitable opportunities for those groups.
The companies also committed to anonymously report the following data by March 2024 per the Diversity in Innovation Pledge:
Inventorship Rate for a specific URI group = # of Unique Underrepresented Inventors on Patent Applications) ÷ (Total # of Unique Inventors on Patent Applications)
Fractional Inventorship Rate for a specific URI group (e.g., average percentage of URIs per patent application in each calendar year) = Sum of % of URIs per Patent Application) ÷ (Total # of Patent Applications)
The USPTO’s Progress and Potential Report was the first step in raising national awareness of gender participation in the innovation process, with women only participating on 13% of patents. We can all agree that as a nation we need to do better and create an innovation ecosystem where all talented inventors can participate. Today, Meta and Lenovo shared their gender baseline data after the first year, with the hope that their efforts will encourage greater transparency of inventorship data by all companies.
Women represented 24.8% of Meta’s workforce in tech roles (see Meta’s 2022 Diversity Report). For calendar year 2021, the inventorship rate for Meta’s female inventors was 17.6% and the fractional inventorship rate was 19.1%.
Women represented 26.4% of Lenovo’s workforce in technical roles (see most recently published numbers in Lenovo’s 2020 D&I Report). For calendar year 2021, the inventorship rate for Lenovo’s female inventors was 17.4% and the fractional inventorship rate was 15.4%.
Increasing Diversity in Innovation focuses on providing best practices, data, and research from academia, corporations and nonprofits designed to help companies better integrate and incorporate underrepresented inventors into their innovation ecosystems, leading to demonstrable and measurable results.
“Meta is a part of the solution addressing the issue of underrepresented inventors. We’ve made a commitment to take action and make measurable, lasting change.” Jyoti Uppuluri, Head of Patent Portfolio Strategy, Reality Labs at Meta
Maintaining a technical and innovative edge is vital for success in the marketplace and for global economic and technological success. For individual companies, more innovation can lead to increased market share, customer acquisition, employee retention, and more.
“Lenovo believes innovation can come from anywhere and anyone, and we’re committed to empowering our employees as innovators. When it comes to inventor diversity and inclusion, we believe measuring a baseline is an important first step to breaking down the barriers for innovative voices to be heard.” John Mulgrew, Vice President of Intellectual Property, Lenovo.
”The USPTO is committed to doing our part toward increasing diversity, inclusion, equity, and accessibility throughout the innovation ecosystem. That starts with identifying metrics and understanding current obstacles for underrepresented and under-resourced innovators, and working with allies in the public and private sectors on a comprehensive approach to ensure all those with dreams of innovation have a fair shot at success. I am proud to serve with Secretary Raimondo and other government and industry leaders on our Council for Inclusive Innovation (CI2) to advance the Administration’s core priority of increasing diversity in innovation and America’s economic prosperity. We applaud USIPA, Meta, Lenovo, and all companies who have signed and support the Diversity Pledge to bring about real change, and we encourage more companies to stand up and lead in this impactful area.” Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
The Diversity Pledge helps to Identify diversity disparities within the IP ecosystem to understand causes and barriers, eliminate bias, and illustrate the benefits and successes of a more inclusive IP community. Companies will continue to work with US IP stakeholders to enhance diversity & inclusion of ideas so that the best creations and innovations get to US citizens as fast as possible at a fair price.
“Given that companies account for 80% of patents in the United States, it made sense to focus on increasing underrepresented inventor participation within companies to increase our national innovation activity quickly. Meta and Lenovo sharing their gender baselines will help normalize the transparency needed around inclusivity and will also provide a way for other companies to begin benchmarking themselves against this new set of inclusivity metrics. USIPA will work with the entire IP community to effectively scale this initiative from 50 companies to all Fortune 500 and beyond, as that is how you make actionable change.” Suzanne Harrison, USIPA Board member and D&I co-chair.