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Commerce's USPTO Announces National Strategy to Empower Innovators and Entrepreneurs from All Communities

New plan to increase diversity and participation in STEM, inventorship, and innovation

The Commerce Department’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently announced a new National Strategy for Inclusive Innovation to connect more Americans with resources to spur innovation and entrepreneurship. In conjunction with the agency’s work with the Council for Inclusive Innovation (CI2), the Strategy aims to grow the economy, create quality jobs, and address global challenges by increasing participation in STEM, inventorship, and innovation among youth and those from historically underrepresented and underresourced communities. 

The protection of intellectual property (IP), including patents and trademarks, has been at the forefront of advancement in science and technology. However, opportunities to participate in the U.S. innovation system have been historically unequal. Our most recent Progress and Potential report found that while more women are entering and staying active in the patent system, only 12.8% of all inventors named on U.S. patents are women. At the same time, a Harvard University study revealed that white Americans are three times more likely to invent than Black Americans, and that children born to parents in the top 1% of income earners are 10 times more likely to become inventors than those from families with below-median income.

In the continued effort to advance the mission of inclusive innovation, the USPTO has outlined a comprehensive strategic approach for the federal government, academic institutions, and private industry to share and implement best practices that inspire and support a diverse population of problem-solvers.

“Opportunities for innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship should be accessible to everyone, especially those who have historically lacked access to our most valuable support systems and resources,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “USPTO’s National Strategy for Inclusive Innovation outlines a pathway to success for inventors from all backgrounds. This is a reminder that America’s diversity is our greatest strength, but only if everyone has the opportunity to fulfill their potential. By empowering innovators and entrepreneurs from all communities, we can help ensure America’s global competitiveness for decades to come.”

“In order to fulfill our nation’s innovative promise, every sector of the innovation ecosystem—industry, associations, governments, and schools—must take tangible steps to ensure that all Americans can fully realize their inventive and entrepreneurial potential,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Kathi Vidal. “This Strategy provides a call to action and roadmap to achieve innovative success. When we all work together with a common objective, we can do big things for each other and the country.”

The Strategy is built upon four Cornerstones, each of which is critical to maximizing American prosperity. The Cornerstones include:

  • Addressing K-12 educational disparities and the need to inspire youth of all backgrounds to become innovators
  • Focusing on post-secondary educational disparities for students and faculty
  • Promoting inclusiveness in organizations
  • Increasing, for all Americans, commercialization opportunities for innovations 

The Strategy complements the National Entrepreneurship Strategy recently released by the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE), on which Director Vidal sits as a co-chair, that includes recommendations for how the U.S. Department of Commerce, the federal government, and the private sector can foster an entrepreneurship ecosystem that ensures the United States leads in critical technology innovation.

Director Vidal discussed the new Strategy at a recent event celebrating World IP Day on Capitol Hill that also featured members of Congress and representatives from the U.S. Copyright Office and IP organizations.

The USPTO’s 2019 Report to Congress as part of the SUCCESS Act of 2018 required the agency to identify publicly available data on the patenting activity of underrepresented groups and the benefits of increasing this activity. As part of that report, the USPTO pledged to create a council for innovation inclusiveness consisting of representatives from the general public, private corporations, academia, nonprofit organizations, and the U.S. government. This council would help develop a national strategy for promoting and increasing the participation of underrepresented groups as inventor-patentees, entrepreneurs, and innovation leaders. 

Since then, the USPTO formed the Council for Inclusive Innovation, or CI2. In connection with its collaboration with CI2, the USPTO has launched key initiatives such as a First-Time Filer Expedited Examination Program that offers extra support for inventors new to the patent system; an IP Champions program that leverages our nationwide workforce to provide IP assistance and training within their communities; a diversity information platform that provides data-driven analyses and a one-stop shop for discussing and sharing best practices; the expansion of our nationwide pro bono programs providing free legal assistance to underresourced inventors; and a paid innovation internship program for college students from underrepresented communities, among other initiatives. With today’s launch of the National Strategy for Inclusive Innovation, USPTO is taking an important step towards greater equity in inventorship and will continue to advance the key tenets underpinning the Strategy through its goal of fostering more inclusive innovation throughout America.

To further this goal, the USPTO recently updated its website to indicate more locations where patenting and trademark registration assistance can be found. These locations include our five Regional Offices and more than 90 Patent and Trademark Resource Centers (PTRCs). PTRCs are a USPTO-designated network of libraries where visitors can learn more about filing applications for patents and trademarks and get their questions answered. To find a PTRC or a Regional Office near you and learn more about services offered, visit USPTO’s new Locations page on the USPTO website.


The USPTO is the federal agency for granting U.S. patents and registering trademarks. The strength and vitality of the U.S. economy depends directly on effective mechanisms that protect new ideas and investments in innovation and creativity. The USPTO advises the President of the United States, the Secretary of Commerce, and U.S. government agencies on intellectual property (IP) policy, protection, and enforcement; and promotes the stronger and more effective IP protection around the world. More information is available at uspto.gov/about-us.

About the Council for Inclusive Innovation (CI2)

CI2 was born out of the USPTO’s 2018 SUCCESS Act report transmitted to Congress in 2019, which found that women and minorities are underrepresented as inventors and as patentees named on U.S.-granted patents. Based on the report findings the USPTO launched a high-level council of industry, academic, professional, and government leaders tasked with helping support a national strategy for increased participation of underrepresented groups in innovation—as inventors, entrepreneurs, and innovation leaders. CI2 is charged with strategizing new ways to expand American innovation by increasing the opportunities for all Americans to participate in innovation. More information is available at Council for Inclusive Innovation (CI2) | USPTO.

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