The first step in a non-discriminatory US patent system is to make sure it is available to all Americans without legal limit. The second step, and the one with real potential to drive an innovation economy, is to takes steps to ensure that the system is inspiring to all Americans. The trick is how to get there without causing undue damage. One underlying issue is also a lack of information about what’s really happening.
A bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives have re-introduced the IDEA Act. (Inventor Diversity for Economic Advancement (IDEA) Act of 2021). S.632; H.R.1723. Right now, the USPTO does not ask inventors their for any demographic information other than contact information and country of residence. The legislation would require the PTO director to collect inventor-level information on “gender, race, military or veteran status, and any other demographic category that the Director determines appropriate.” Under the provision, inventors would not be required to submit the information, and any submissions would be kept “confidential and separate from the application.” However, disaggregated information could be available for data analysis and for an annual report from the PTO.
- S.632. Sponsor: Sen. Hirono; Cosponsors: Sens. Tillis, Coons, Leahy, Grassley.
- H.R.1723. Sponsor. Rep. Velazquez; Cosponsor, Rep Stivers.
The proposals are now before the respective judiciary committees. Sen. Leahy is the chair of the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, and Sen. Tillis is the ranking member. In the House, Intellectual Property does not have its own committee this session, but rather is part of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet chaired by Rep. Johnson. Rep. Issa is the ranking member.