The Women's IP World Annual 2019/2020


We are delighted to present you with the launch edition of The Women’s IP World Annual 2019/2020, celebrating women at all levels working in IP Law and Innovation. From the very beginning, the response and feedback we had was amazing, and we would like to thank all of the incredible women involved. Our aim was to celebrate a group of diverse women, from all over the globe, showcasing their achievements and also their personalities to inspire and inform. We have taken an unbiased approach and kept the articles & profiles as authentic as possible, to keep the author's own personal style. This has resulted in a cocktail of inspirational women coming together to share thoughts, ideas, and experience positively. We hope you enjoy this issue as much as we have enjoyed putting it together.

Ms. Elvin Hassan

Editor & Head of International liaisons


led to the development of COBOL, an initial highlevel

programming language which is still in use

today. While working on the Mark II computer,

Hopper and her associates found a moth stuck

in a relay; disrupting communications. This has

been suggested as the first instance of literal


Contrastingly, figures show that fields such as mechanical elements and engines, pumps and turbines

are some of the least represented by women, a trend which has been apparent since 2000. Although

the share of women inventors in mechanical elements and engines, pumps and turbines were joint

lowest in 2018 out of all the fields, both of these have shown exponential growth in women inventors

rising by 69 and 63 percent respectively, which may indicate that government legislation and STEMencouragement

is having a positive effect on gender representation equality in these areas.


of science

By Freya Shepherd, Member of the Biotech team at Patent Seekers

Bio: Freya Shepherd (Biomedical

Science (Clinical Biochemistry)

MSc) is an established member

of the Biotech team at Patent

Seekers (A leading patent research

company based in the UK and

Canada). She has worked on

patent search cases from standard

Toe-in-the-Water and Patentability

searches, through to complex

Freedom to Operate and Invalidity

searches. Her specialisms are

therapeutics, surgical devices,

pharmaceuticals, and gene


Freya is passionate about women

in science and intellectual

property and relished the

opportunity to write an article

for the inaugural edition of the

Women’s IP World.

“A ship in port is safe, but that is

not what ships are built for. Sail

out to sea and do new things.”

— Grace Hopper

Women inventors, scientists, and engineers

have discovered countless revolutionary and

life-changing inventions that have caused

unprecedented breakthroughs in the history

of the world. Why is it then that when we are

asked to name a famous inventor, it is Thomas

Edison, Benjamin Franklin or Alexander

Fleming who comes to mind? These men

undoubtedly made gigantic steps for mankind

and science, and we are still very reliant on

their inventions today. However, is their work

any more noteworthy than that of Stephanie

Kwolek, the inventor of Kevlar, whose groundbreaking

work has protected countless army

and police personnel across the world? Or

that of Hedy Lamarr, a Hollywood actress

who invented a secret communication system

used by the US navy in order to send covert

messages to sea?

Over time, women inventors have become more

documented and well-known. However, not

nearly enough tribute, recognition or honour has

been accredited to some of the greatest minds

who have produced some of the most innovative

ideas - without which we would not be in the

advanced scientific place we are today.

Some of the most influential inventions to

reach our markets have come from the minds

of female inventors; however, innovation and

design have traditionally been viewed as maledominated

environments. In recent years,

significant efforts have been made to address

this imbalance by promoting STEM (science,

technology, engineering, and mathematics)

subjects to women in education and to introduce

government-led legislation to ensure men and

women are equally represented in the workplace.

This article will explore some of the most

significant inventions of the last 150 years and

the female minds behind them, and using patent

statistics, will explore how the current patent

landscape is progressing towards an equally

represented field.

One woman who was arguably far too

advanced for her scientific day, so much so

that it was near 100 years until her ideas were

fully understood and benefited from, was Ada

Lovelace - a mathematician, scientist, and world’s

first computer programmer. In the 1840s, in

collaboration with Charles Babbage, Lovelace

suggested to Babbage that she should work

out a language for the analytical engine that

Babbage was creating, based on her advanced

knowledge of mathematics. The language she

created (“Ada”) is now considered to be the first

computer program. She predicted that such a

language would be able to compose complex

music, produce graphics, and could be harnessed

for both practical and scientific use – ideas

exponentially ahead of her time. Whilst Ada

eventually received recognition for her computer

language “Ada” it took a long time for her

significant contribution to be recognised.

Rear Admiral Grace Hopper was an American

computer scientist, receiver of the Presidential

Medal of Freedom and one of the very few women

to ever reach the rank of Rear Admiral. After

joining the US Navy during the Second World War,

Hopper was assigned to work on a new computer,

called the Mark I. By the 1950s, she was at the

forefront of computer programming. As one of the

first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer,

she was a pioneer of computer programming and

invented one of the first linkers (originally called

a compiler). She promoted the idea of machineindependent

programming languages, which

Hedy Lamarr was not your average 1940s

Hollywood film star; she developed a secret

communications system which would later be

used by the US Navy. Born in Austria, where she

began her Hollywood career - which included a star

on the Hollywood Walk of Fame - she then moved

to the United States where she met composer

George Antheil. Together they developed a radio

guidance system which used frequency hopping

spread spectrum technology to overcome the

possibility of interference. Their invention was

granted a patent in 1942 (US2292387A) and is

patented under her married name, Hedy Kiesler

Markey, however, the technology was difficult to

implement at the time, and the Navy did not like

to use ideas from outside the military. In 1962, a

current updated version of their invention finally

appeared on Navy ships.

Although the Navy was slow to implement the

technology, various spread-spectrum techniques

are incorporated into Bluetooth technology and

are similar to methods used in legacy versions

of Wi-Fi. After 50 years, the Navy gave her

recognition for her ingenious invention which

included an induction into the National Inventors

Hall of Fame, in 2014.

The National Inventors Hall of Fame, which works

in collaboration with the United States Patent and

Trademark Office (USPTO), honours the history of

innovation with its some 581 inductees. However,

only 39 of these are women – does this reflect

the recognition women inventors have been

given throughout history? The National Science

and Technology Medals foundation follows suit

with a staggering low number of 61 out of 707

of its inductees being women. This is not a true

reflection of how many of the innovative ideas we

rely on today that were developed by women.

The Patent Corporation Treaty yearly review

(2019), published by the World Intellectual

Property Organisation, looks into current trends

of those patenting under the act. This year it

published that in 2018, women accounted for

17% of all inventors listed in PCT applications.

Fields of technology related to the life sciences,

such as biotechnology and pharmaceuticals,

have comparatively high shares of women

among inventors. Women account for over half

of contributions in the biotechnology field in

2018, a figure which could be suggested will rise

as figures have done so year on year since 2000

although more women than men are now going

to university (in the academic year 2016/2017),

ten percent less women than men are studying

scientific subjects which could indicate that the

climb to equality might be slowing down.

Figure 2 – Percentage increase in the share of applications with at least one women inventor by technology, from the period

2000-2018. Source: WIPO statistics database.

However, not all great inventions have come from women who studied at higher education level or

those who studied scientifically. For instance, Josephine Cochran invented the dishwasher - a socialite

with no formal education who invented the first useful dishwasher in 1886 out of necessity to prevent

her servants from breaking her fine china. Cochran went on to found her own company to manufacture

her dishwashers, which eventually became KitchenAid.

The gender gap is still widespread. Even in progressive economies, there are still relatively low shares

of PCT applications by women inventors, for example, in 2018, in the United Kingdom, only 26% of PCT

applications had women inventors. Women may still be coming up against the notorious ‘glass ceiling.’

However, the landscape is undoubtedly improving; in all but one of the top 20 contributors, there have

been Figure impressive 2 – Percentage improvements; increase in the share Sweden of applications and Finland with at least have one increased women inventor their by figures technology, by over from the 100 period percent

in the 2000-2018. last eighteen Source: WIPO years. statistics This database. suggests that although there is still a gap across the globe; the level of

women inventors has risen, and this will likely continue.

Figure 3 – Share of PCT applications with women inventors for the top 20 origins (2018) with the percentage difference

between figures in 2000 compared to 2018 (value on the right). Source: WIPO statistics database.

Figure 3 – Share of PCT applications with women inventors for the top 20 origins (2018) with the percentage difference

between figures in 2000 compared to 2018 (value on the right). Source: WIPO statistics database.

In conclusion, the patent world is progressively recognising more women inventors,

although this progression is more evident in some subjects more than others, and in

some countries more than others. The drastic increases over the last eighteen years

are encouraging and have led to a varied landscape from which we can conclude

that women will in time play a more significant role in innovation, engineering, and

design but at what point men and women become equals on this level is unknown.

Note In order to attribute gender to inventors’ names recorded in PCT applications,

WIPO produced a gender–name dictionary based on information from 13 different

public sources. Gender is attributed to a given name on a country-by-country basis

because certain names can be considered male in one country but female in another.

[from World Intellectual Property Indicators]

* Quote originally attributed to John Augustus Shedd, although adopted as a motto

by Grace Hopper.

Figure 1 - Comparison between the two highest and two lowest fields of technology for shares of applications with

at least one women inventor. Source: WIPO statistics database.

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