How to Overcome Patent Barriers for Mexican American Inventors
If you’re a Mexican-American inventor who’s considering pursuing a patent, you’re not alone. Many Hispanic inventors have made a significant contribution to our country. But how do you break through the patent system’s diversity barriers? We’ll look at some of the challenges Minority inventors face and some strategies for overcoming those obstacles. You can also learn about the contributions of Hispanic inventors to the nation.
Hispanic inventors’ contributions to the nation
Recent studies show that women and Mexican American inventors are less likely than white men and women to obtain patents. The number of patents awarded to women and Latinx inventors is 22 percent compared to 40 percent for white men. Hispanic and African American inventors file for patents at roughly half the rate of white college graduates, according to a study by Opportunity Insights. As a result, these studies have some important implications for patent policies and the broader innovation process.
In addition to the disparity in patents, there are other factors that contribute to low rates of success. One factor may be implicit bias in education policies. In the South, Black students make up nearly half of the students suspended from public schools, pointing to implicit bias in school discipline. Meanwhile, incarceration rates are markedly different between states. For example, Maine has more than one hundred people imprisoned per capita, while Massachusetts has a higher rate of incarceration, making it less conducive to innovation.
If income disparities between whites and Hispanics were eliminated, the number of non-white children who become inventors could increase by 1.8 times. The potential gains would be even larger in lower-income states, while smaller gains would be observed in higher-income states. The elimination of income disparities would be especially beneficial for the South, where the rate of innovation is much lower. So, what should we do to improve the patent system for Mexican American inventors?
Lack of access to patent training is another issue that contributes to low-income, minority, and women entrepreneurs’ inability to participate in the innovation economy. The problem of limited patent training prevents many potential entrepreneurs from applying for patents. This disadvantages women and minority entrepreneurs, as well as low-income groups and communities that are less likely to be exposed to STEM fields. So, how do we overcome these obstacles and increase the number of diverse inventors?
The diversity gap in the patent system
The number of women in the U.S. patenting process has been disproportionately male. That is not surprising, considering that women make up only 12% of all patentees. Further, women, people of color, and low-income individuals are disproportionately underrepresented in the patenting process. If these groups were proportionately represented in the patenting process, their number would almost double. This would significantly boost innovation rates across the U.S. and would increase economic diversity.
The patent system has historically been biased toward white men, with only 17% of patents awarded to women. Minority inventors make up only 6% of the patent pool. Minority inventors, particularly Mexican-Americans, are far less likely to obtain a patent than their counterparts. Moreover, women were less likely to be named as primary inventors in a patent, as compared to white men. The lack of female patent holders among Mexican-American inventors is even more concerning given that they are often the most skilled and educated people in the country.
While it is difficult to determine ethnic composition of inventors, bipartisan legislative attempts to address this issue have been made. Inventor Diversity for Economic Advancement Act of 2021, for example, attempted to require the USPTO to collect demographic data on patent applicants. If these data were available, they could have proposed solutions to this problem. However, in reality, it has not been possible to measure the number of Mexican-American inventors, as only twelve percent were female.
The USPTO collects demographic data on patent applicants. This data is essential to examine the differences in the patent system among diverse groups. Using this data to empower diverse inventors would have several benefits. It would increase the number of American inventors by fourfold, and increase the gross domestic product of the U.S. by nearly $1 trillion. The USPTO could also collect this data on a voluntary basis.
While the number of female inventors is relatively low, it is important to note that women make up the largest proportion of all patent applicants. In fact, women outnumber male inventors in all subareas of Chemistry, Metallurgy, and Engineering. In addition, Mexican women often work in small teams and apply for patent titles in small and medium-sized groups. Male inventors prefer single-authored applications.
Minority inventors’ challenges in the patent system
In the United States, the rate of patents awarded to Black inventors is one-third of those granted to white inventors. Hispanic inventors, on the other hand, file for patents at a rate that is less than half that of white inventors. And Asian inventors have the highest percentage of patents issued to non-Asian inventors: two-thirds. These low rates, coupled with an overall lack of exposure to the patent system, have made minority inventors’ success stories all the more impressive.
But despite these disparities, black inventors continue to push the boundaries of invention and innovation. One such Black inventor is Lisa Ascolese, known as “The Inventress.” Janet Emerson Bashen was the first black woman to receive a software patent in 2006. Dr. Hadiyah Green recently won a $1 million grant for her invention that may one day help people deal with cancer. Although the patent system doesn’t actively exclude Black inventors, it doesn’t allow these individuals to protect their ideas.
In response to these disparities, the patent office has launched programs that aim to address the issues. For example, Proskauer’s patent lawyers work with the Cardozo Law School’s Patent Diversity Project, which aims to increase the number of patents awarded to women and minorities. Through these programs, Proskauer’s pro bono lawyers connect diverse inventors with the patent requirements and represent them throughout the patent application process.
The challenges faced by Black inventors are not only a result of a lack of resources but also of discrimination. In the North, black inventors were nearly equal to their white counterparts in terms of patents. But this disparity was a result of systemic racism, which disadvantaged Black inventors’ chances of patenting their inventions. In addition to financial barriers, they were also more likely to be denied the patent.
Strategies for overcoming the diversity gap
It’s a well-known fact that Mexican American inventors file half as many patent applications as their white counterparts. That’s not a small percentage, and it’s even worse for women. In the United States, women make up just 15 percent of the population, and they make up just four percent of the inventors. Soto’s success is remarkable, especially when we consider that the U.S. patent system is predominantly white.
One way to combat this issue is to increase diversity in STEM fields. Although Hispanic representation has increased by one percentage point since 2018, there is still a long way to go before eradicating underrepresentation. STEM fields are particularly difficult to fill, as a recent study by the Society of Human Resource Management found. On average, it took 50 days to fill STEM positions, whereas non-educational STEM jobs took just 16 days longer.
Agencies should develop well-qualified candidate pools, and Hispanics should be targeted for advancement. Also, agencies should consider creating research grants in STEM fields and hiring students who have shown interest in the field. To increase diversity, agencies should consider hiring Hispanic veterans, and Hispanic students with targeted disabilities or veteran status. And, if possible, agencies should conduct exit interviews on all employees.
A group led by EEOC chair Naomi C. Earp has identified several steps to combat the diversity gap in the federal government. It has formed a partnership with the National Council of Hispanic Employment Program Managers and the Council of Federal EEO and Civil Rights Executives to create federal policies to encourage greater participation of Hispanics in the innovation ecosystem. It acknowledges the input of many stakeholders and will help to improve the working environment for Mexican American inventors.
Moreover, the EEOC should create a government-wide mentoring program. Agencies should provide mentors to GS-15 and GS-14 employees. The EEOC should also establish a government-wide mentoring program wherein senior Hispanic employees mentor Hispanic employees. Mentors should be trained to identify and support Hispanic employees. Agencies should increase the number of Hispanics selected for management training, leadership training, and detail assignments.
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