Request for Comments on the National Strategy for Expanding American Innovation

The USPTO is in the midst of writing a new “report concerning patenting and entrepreneurship activities among women, minorities, and veterans” and is seeking comments (www.regulations.govdocket number PTO-P-2020-0057).

= = = = =

Issues for Comment: The USPTO seeks comments from the public that will be used to help draft a national strategy to create opportunities that will expand our innovation ecosystem to include all individuals, including those from underrepresented socioeconomic, geographic, and demographic groups. The questions below are grouped according to the categories within the broad conceptual framework outlined above for the national strategy. The USPTO welcomes answers to these questions, as well as any additional comments, from the public:

I. General

1. Inventors and entrepreneurs come from all walks of life and are not always employed by a large corporate or educational institution. How can people and organizations in the innovation ecosystem better support them?

2. Women and some minorities have not participated proportionally in the patenting of inventions. What barriers to innovation inclusion are specific to underrepresented groups? What supporting role should government organizations play in helping underrepresented groups overcome these barriers?

3. Mentoring and networking have been shown to be effective tools in supporting and encouraging underrepresented inventors and entrepreneurs. How can organizations and intellectual property practitioners in the innovation ecosystem better connect underrepresented innovators to each other and to mentors, both internally and across organizations?

4. Developing organizational metrics to document the effectiveness of diversity and inclusion initiatives is necessary to track outcomes of action plans and initiatives. What are best practices that organizations can internally employ to measure their own progress, particularly in the area of intellectual property protection?

5. Measuring national progress in realizing greater inclusion and diversity in invention, entrepreneurship, and intellectual property may take years, and it will be critical to identify complementary short- and long-term metrics that are precursors to and indicators of expanding innovation. What are some specific, meaningful, and relevant measures that can be used to:

a. Support year-over-year performance of action plans and initiatives in the short-term?

b. Demonstrate the long-term creation of diversity and inclusion in the innovation ecosystem while complementing short-term performance metrics?

6. Invention, entrepreneurship, and intellectual property protection have been shown to be concentrated in certain areas of the country and among individuals from higher socioeconomic groups. What new or existing channels could be created or utilized to more effectively deliver information and resources to prospective innovators from all demographic, geographic, and economic backgrounds?

II. Creating Innovators—Helping To Prepare People To Obtain the Skills and Develop the Interests Necessary To Become Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Entrepreneurs

7. Research has shown that “invention education”—the infusion of transdisciplinary education in problem identification and problem solving—is critical to developing innovation skills in learners. How can educational institutions at all levels (pre-kindergarten through post-graduate) successfully infuse concepts of invention, entrepreneurship, and intellectual property education into curricula?

8. To supplement formal education, how can community institutions, particularly in rural and economically disadvantaged areas, build awareness of, and skills and interests in, invention, entrepreneurship, and intellectual property among students of all ages?

9. More can be done to help teachers, even those with a formal science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) background, incorporate concepts of innovation into their teaching methods. What new or existing professional development opportunities, resources, and programs could train teachers to incorporate invention education concepts into their instruction? How could these efforts be leveraged and scaled so that similar resources and opportunities are accessible to all teachers?

III. Practicing Innovation—Harnessing Skills and Interests to the Act of Innovation

10. Recent progress in developing STEM graduates from underrepresented groups has been documented. How can similar rates of invention and entrepreneurship be attained? How can organizations best recruit and retain innovators from diverse backgrounds?

11. Inventors thrive when cultural and institutional barriers within workplaces are minimized or removed. What are examples of these barriers, and how can organizations remove them to create an inclusive, innovative workplace culture?

12. Access to information and resources is pivotal for the development of individual inventors and small businesses. How can the nation better support individual inventors and small businesses with resources so they can successfully translate their skills and creativity into the acts of invention, intellectual property protection, and entrepreneurship?

13. Another important objective is increasing diversity in the entire Start Printed Page 83908intellectual property field. What are ways of promoting diversity in the corps of intellectual property attorneys and agents who represent innovators?

IV. Realizing Innovation—Reaping the Personal and Societal Benefits of Innovation

14. Financial support is a critical element in translating an innovation into commercial success. What organizations, programs, or other efforts help promote access to capital to an expanded group of inventors and entrepreneurs—demographically, geographically, and economically?

15. Successfully commercializing an inventive product or concept requires in-depth knowledge about production processes, market forces, and other pertinent information. What types of mentoring initiatives could be implemented or expanded to help experienced entrepreneurs impart this specialized knowledge to diverse and novice inventors?

16. Formalized partnerships like tech transfer offices/conferences, accelerators, and incubators can help streamline commercialization objectives such as product development, licensing, and distribution. What can be done to make these partnerships more accessible and effective at supporting all inventors and entrepreneurs?

V. Other

17. Please provide any other comments that you feel should be considered as part of, and that are directly related to, the development of a national strategy to expand the innovation ecosystem demographically, geographically, and economically.

Andrei Iancu

41 thoughts on “Request for Comments on the National Strategy for Expanding American Innovation

  1. 9

    How could a patentee determine whether a black box technique, such as a technical scheme in cloud computing area in which the patentee could see nothing, infringes his patents?

  2. 8

    There have been several sociology and economic studies in which multiple copies of identical c.v.s are submitted to a given employer, but each with a different name. Again and again, such studies find that names that sound: caucasian (e.g., “Peter Mayle”) get more invitations for interview than those that sound African-American (e.g., “Malik Davis”); and male (e.g., “Robert”) get more invitations for interview than those that sound female (e.g., “Susan”).

    It might be interesting to see the USPTO conduct the same experiment with patent applications. Assign the identical application with the identical filing date to multiple examiners within an art unit (clearly, the SPEs would have to be “in on” the set up), but each with a different name for the solo inventor. My Bayesian prior expectation would that there would be no statistically significant impact on the outcome of examination for each of these categories of dummy-inventor names. It would be interesting, however, to see this hypothesis confirmed in actual experience.

    1. 8.1

      “It might be interesting to see the USPTO conduct the same experiment with patent applications.”

      Like you, I doubt that inventor name would make any significant difference.

      I’d rather expend the resources for such an experiment on testing examiner variability. But I suspect the PTO doesn’t want to see hard data on how evenly 101/112/103 is applied.

    2. 8.2

      What an interesting thought, Greg. as a human, not only is one’s face one’s fortune but also (as has been proven innumerable times) one’s name. If you are a professional musician, auditioning for a job in a symphony orchestra, will you welcome or deplore the idea of a screen placed between the interview panel and the auditioner? It has been proven that the preferences of the committee members change with that screen. Mind you, first you have to make it onto the short list for interview.

      But whether such prejudice extends to inventor names on a patent application, I’m sceptical. Does the Examiner even notice the inventor name, or pay any attention at all to it? Why should they? What’s in it for the Examiner? It’s not as if they have to share a room with the inventor, is it?

      I’m much more sceptical whether, in the various Patent Offices of the world, the nationality of the corporate assignee makes a difference.

    3. 8.3

      “There have been several sociology and economic studies in which multiple copies of identical c.v.s are submitted to a given employer, but each with a different name. Again and again, such studies”

      Muh studies. And how many “muh studies” returned a null/opposite result or a counter result that then were not reported? You did look at the result in that particular study you just cited that showed no difference for women from men right? How many come back null/opposite between the races?

      1. 8.3.1

        Something about ‘pesky facts’ comes to mind (academia is NOT a bastion for any such things)

  3. 7

    How can we get more women and minorities to participate in the PowerBall Lottery?

    1. 7.1

      Buy them a ticket. Or advertise to them heavily in xyz neighborhoods. Depict winning the lottery as a great thing akin to going to heaven (as opposed to the curse, or the ho hum event that it generally is for most winners).

  4. 6

    Stop with the identity politics. Just stop. You have destroyed the country where everyone views themselves as part of some group before being an American.

    Base any help not on an identity but a situation.

    And the best thing that you could do is overturn Alice/KSR/eBay and remove the CAFC and reform it with real judges.

    1. 6.1

      And the best thing that could be done is to address some of the fundamental problems and not waste resources putting your finger on the scale.

    2. 6.2

      [T]he best thing that you could do is overturn Alice/KSR/eBay…

      +1

    3. 6.3

      Stop with the identity politics. Just stop.

      Agreed. Our polity would be in a better place if we were to cease from stigmatizing each other based on identity traits and confined our political disagreements to more bloodless public policy questions, such as tax rates and budget allocations.

      1. 6.3.1

        “Our polity would be in a better place if we were to cease from stigmatizing each other based on identity traits and confined our political disagreements to more bloodless public policy questions, such as tax rates and budget allocations.”

        But but but! That defends the status quo and is oppression, oppressor! If you don’t take into account people’s IDs, then you won’t take into account Greg’s (and MM’s et al.) oppression thereof sufficiently (as has been denied historically).

        Technically true btw, even though that is leftism above.

  5. 5

    Consider me skeptical that there is anything much that the patent system can do to remedy the inequities discussed above. Their origins lie way upstream of the patent system. If the government were really serious about tackling these issues, they would be soliciting comments in the Department of Education and the Immigration & Naturalization Service, rather than the PTO.

    1. 5.1

      For whatever little my thoughts are worth, I offer the following suggestions (none of which lie within the PTO’s power to implement):

      1) Test all students for gifted/talented assessment before they start kindergarten.

      2) Eliminate local school boards and the network of local property taxes that support local schools. Make school funding and curriculum the province of the state.

      3) Assign students (taking reasonable account of travel time) to schools based on the results of #1 above, rather than just sending the students to the nearest elementary to their homes.

      4) Issue a green card to every would-be immigrant who has (a) a bachelor’s degree, (b) no criminal record, & (c) no communicable or debilitating illnesses.

      None of these are policies under the PTO’s control. Most would be only dubiously within the federal government’s power absent a constitutional amendment.

      1. 5.1.1

        “2) Eliminate local school boards and the network of local property taxes that support local schools. Make school funding and curriculum the province of the state.”

        And so began the Second American Revolution.

        1. 5.1.1.1

          No joke.

      2. 5.1.2

        I don’t see how any of that would help anything. At best it just implies that you personally think that there are gifted students that have to go to local terrible schools, which apparently you think are terrible schools because of local taxes supporting them perhaps (even though nowadays most schools, even in minority areas, get enough in grants etc. to have them decently funded in general as a simple factual matter), and that these gifted students going to other schools through grade school would magically help the inequities discussed above. And something about the tax system you think should be reformed for no actual reason as the state can fill any gaps in the school funding that they wish to already without doing away with the whole local tax scheme. Also you seem to think a green card to immigrants (presumably here illegally) would somehow help in inequity on a more than minutely measurable scale.

        Spoiler, as to 1, most kids can already be IDed as gifted or not in their early years, pre-k or just after, without formal testing, it’s not rocket science. As to 2, again as mentioned, no need as the states can already plug any budget holes they want to, no need to do away with the property tax scheme (and also spoiler this is already done to a large part by states and fed gov, this ain’t the 70’s). As to 3, it might help things a tiny bit, and has been proposed elsewhere (more “governor’s schools” and access thereto is the proposal), but it in general doesn’t help that much, as you only deal with the top % of people. And you can’t just segregate the whole general school population on account of their performance (either on testing or just observed ability) as you would then largely formally re-segregate schools. As to 4, non-noticeable numbers involved and just one more demand on illegal immigration gimmies.

        1. 5.1.2.1

          [Y]ou seem to think a green card to immigrants (presumably here illegally) would somehow help in inequity on a more than minutely measurable scale.

          My apologies for any lack of clarity, but my #4 had nothing to do with illegal immigrants. I proposed green cards for “would-be immigrant”s—i.e., people who are not yet immigrants, but who might be persuaded to immigrate.

  6. 4

    Why not just follow the advice of the greatest economist that ever lived, Adam Smith, he who first spotted the “invisible hand” of the market that renders capitalism the greatest engine of universal prosperity ever to be invented. But please, pay attention to all his writings, not just the single mention of the invisible hand. In particular, those parts where he flagged up lobbying and crony capitalism as the greatest destroyers of prosperity. As he observed, whenever “merchants” huddle, it will be to hatch some scheme or other to cheat the public.

    1. 4.1

      Why not just follow the advice of… Adam Smith[?]

      Because his advice would be hugely controversial and unpopular. I happen to agree with you that public policy would be much improved if it were more thoroughly informed by both The Wealth of Nations and The Theory of Moral Sentiments. There is a reason, however, why public policy is nowhere* so informed by these ideas. They would require a dictatorship to implement.

      * Except perhaps tiny dictatorships like Singapore.

      1. 4.1.1

        Greg, I don’t know what you have in mind when you state that nothing but a dictatorship would be able to implement the free trade/free market teachings of Adam Smith. He argued against lobbyism, cartels and crony capitalism, as destructive of the general welfare. Everybody could vote for that, surely. Which bit of Smith have you in mind, as being implementable only by a Dictator?

        1. 4.1.1.1

          Smith (correctly) observed that “[p]eople of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.” Here is the thing, however—although only a few percent of citizens in each country belong to any given trade, almost all citizens belong to some trade.

          If you were to put it to a vote “shall we do away with the special protectionist set-asides in the tariff laws that benefit the butchers?”, this might have a popular majority behind it, because few people are butchers. If however, you were to put it to a vote “shall we do away with all special protectionist set-asides in the tariff laws?”, this would fail miserably because most voters will think of the set-asides contrived each for his or her own benefit, and will oppose such a change. It is hard to make a mass of citizens in a democracy to understand that they lose more from protectionist set-asides benefiting other industries than they gain from their own protectionist set-asides.

          1. 4.1.1.1.1

            Is that not though part and parcel of The Invisible Hand…?

            “What’s in it for me” is a net positive driver.

            1. 4.1.1.1.1.1

              In the entire corpus of Smith, the invisible hand is mentioned only once. Who would have guessed. Smith was the great champion of free trade, the great adversary of cartels, lobbying and crony capitalism. Today, unfortunately, the lobbyists have it all too easy. Who can counter-balance them , to bring back Smith-ian prosperity ?

              1. 4.1.1.1.1.1.1

                The use of the phrase — while perhaps merely ‘mentioned once’ is something that has gained historical perspective.

                Your comment shows a lack of appreciation of that historical perspective. Nothing more.

              2. 4.1.1.1.1.1.2

                … and it is not just the lobbyists (per se), but instead is the reach (and voi€e) of the juristic person known as the corporation.

                I have only been sounding out on this point since before Citizen’s United.

  7. 3

    I watched the Ten Commandments. Funny, at the core of the Ten Commandments is that people should be ruled by laws and not people. And, yet, that is exactly what has happened in patent law. There are these multiple part tests set up that allow the fact finder to come to any conclusion they want. No law. People.

    1. 3.1

      And to be clear, when I advise clients about a patent, I have to say that the reality is that whether it is valid or not will depend about 90 percent on which judge looks at it as there are not really any laws. Judges can do whatever they want.

      Think about it. The core human belief has been overturned in the USA.

      By the people like Chien, Lemley, Taranto, Breyer, etc. Directly against the rule of G*d.

      1. 3.1.1

        And it is interesting that most of them are doing it for money.

        It really is a fundamental principle of life that is being violated by these heathens. Probably most are atheists, which illustrates that culture and ethnicity do matter for the culture as a whole.

        So we get these vile people running our country and this is what comes of it. The piece of gold coin supreme to the Rule of Law and G*d.

        1. 3.1.1.1

          And–boy–watch out for trade secrets. You techies are in for h*ll on Earth when the likes of Chien gets its new Trade Secret laws passed. You won’t be able to change jobs. You won’t be able to publish papers.

          You will be slaves to the corporations. Gee, another case where G*d comes into the picture where morality matters.

          1. 3.1.1.1.1

            You see core Christian beliefs do translate into laws and the structure of our economy and human rights.

            1. 3.1.1.1.1.1

              … but how do you really feel about this?

              ;-)

  8. 2

    Stop taking back our patents at the PTAB whenever we try to use them.

    1. 2.1

      Question = How “to create opportunities that will expand our innovation ecosystem to include all individuals, including those from underrepresented socioeconomic, geographic, and demographic groups”?

      Answer = “Stop taking back our patents at the PTAB whenever we try to use them.”

      This answer is obviously inadequate and unserious. We have tried your proposed approach in the 1990s. Maybe that was a better policy overall, or maybe not. Clearly, however, that policy did nothing to minimize inequities among “ individuals… from underrepresented socioeconomic, geographic, and demographic groups.”

      1. 2.1.1

        It’s a better answer than you are giving credit — keeping in mind your own post way above (any inequity thing being far antecedent).

        The actual patent system itself being color-blind, gender-blind, and largely ISM free…

        And I guarantee you — it is most definitely NOT ‘unserious.’

      2. 2.1.2

        Necessary but not sufficient. Rest assured I strongly advise women and minorities not to participate in the current patent system. It is designed to transfer wealth in intellectual property from the under-resourced to the wealthy elite. It is going to take a lot of marketing to convince them I am wrong.

        1. 2.1.2.1

          I strongly advise women and minorities not to participate in the current patent system.

          It is probably sound advice to most human individuals not to participate (qua individuals) in the patent system. The system works best with corporate entities with R&D arms. The involvement of human individuals in the patent system does not often end well—either for the individual or for the system as a whole.

          1. 2.1.2.1.1

            It’s a bit like a National Lottery, isn’t it Greg? Very occasionally, the patent system produces a winner out of an individual inventor. In the UK it is Sir James Dyson, one of Britain’s richest men, whose early patent applications (paid for by mortgaging his house) were filed by himself. Wins like this encourage thousands of poor people to sink their entire savings in patent applications. Sadly.

            Two thoughts come to mind.

            First, the urban myth about the well-meaning doctor assuring his patient that the likelihood of his condition turning out to be fatal is about as likely as winning the top prize in the National Lottery, whereupon the patient concludes that he has only days to live.

            Second, that wise man, Paul Simon, singing in his song “The Werewolf” that “Life is a lottery: a lot of people lose.”

            Human beings are very bad at assessing risk. It’s a well-known fact.

  9. 1

    The #1 need for American innovation; for all Americans:

    The restoration of patent eligibility for all areas of innovation.

    Plain and simple.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You can click here to Subscribe without commenting

Add a picture