Invitation to Share Best Practices to Foster Diversity and Inclusion in the Invention Process

Laura Lee Norris
3 min readJan 18, 2021

Laura Lee Norris, Associate Clinical Professor

Mary Fuller, Senior Clinical Fellow

Joy Baker Peacock, Interim Managing Director, High Tech Law Institute

Sydney Yazzolino, 2L student

Santa Clara University School of Law

The Santa Clara University School of Law and the United States Patent Office (USPTO) are partnering on an ambitious diversity and inclusion study. We are taking a deep-dive to identify, understand, and provide actionable advice about the best practices for attracting and including diverse inventors in the invention and patenting process. With the help of the USPTO, our study began by convening roundtables with industry-agnostic companies around the country that have robust patent filings. We’d like to increase mindshare through input from an expanded number of companies and patent counsel who are willing to confidentially share their own best practices as well as failures they experienced in working towards goals of increasing diversity and inclusion in the patent and invention process.

Our study seeks to build on current resources by further discovering extremely practical knowledge and programs that have resulted in more diverse and inclusive inventorship. This information will support the dual hypotheses that:

  1. America’s long-standing economic prosperity and global leadership in innovation depend on a strong and vibrant innovation ecosystem and must include underrepresented groups¹; and
  2. Diversity is key to bolster a company’s bottom line as studies show that diverse companies produce more revenue².

In this study we are focusing on four specific areas:

  • Awareness: How does someone know when they have an invention, and how do they engage in the patent process? Do you have any special innovation or invention programs aimed at increasing diversity?
  • Disclosure: How does an inventor get involved in the patent disclosure process? Have you implemented any programs or practices that expand inventorship, especially diverse and inclusive inventorship?
  • Incentives: Does your company or client offer an inventor or patent incentive program and which features have increased diversity and inclusion?
  • Goals and Data Tracking: Does your company or client set patent or innovation goals, set Key Performance Indicators and track data diversity data as it relates to those goals?

Would you be willing to share your feedback about your experience in tackling the challenges of increasing diversity and inclusion in the invention process? If so, please respond to this SURVEY. Responses will be kept confidential if requested.

[1] USPTO report to Congress on the SUCCESS Act, October 2019.

[2] “Diverse Companies Produce 19% More Revenue” Anna Power, Forbes, June 2018

Interested in reading more about diversity and inclusion in inventions? Here are some additional resources:

“Advancing Inclusive Innovation and Entrepreneurship through the Patent System”, PatentlyO guest blog post by Santa Clara Law Professor, Colleen Chien, and Jonathan Collins, Zachary J. Daly, and Rodney Swartz, PhD, all third-year JD students at Santa Clara University School of Law.

USPTO information on the SUCCESS Act

USPTO information on Progress and Potential 2019 report with 2020 updates

IPO Gender Diversity tool kit