Intellectual Property and Women Entrepreneurs

 The number of women awarded patents has soared over the last several decades far beyond previously reported figures, and the percentage of trademarks granted to women has more than doubled, a new study commissioned by the National Women’s Business Council found.

The study found that women had a higher representation among trademark holders than patent owners; in 2010, 18 percent of all patents granted went to women while 33 percent of all trademarks granted to individuals and sole proprietorships went to women.


The report found a surging number of women obtaining patents in recent years, with the largest spike seen in 2010, when 22,984 patents were granted to women, a 35 percent jump over the previous year. In 2009, women received 17,061 patents, a 4.5 percent increase over the 16,321 issued in 2008. Men also saw a jump in patent receipts, but at 28 percent, the increase was not as sharp. In 2010, they received 121,257 patents, compared to the 94,850 they received in 2009, a 4 percent bump over the 91,342 patents men obtained in 2008.

The top categories for women-owned patents were chemistry, bio-affecting drugs, semiconductor device manufacturing, and furnishings. The biggest increases, however, in women-obtained patents came in data processing, surgery, and electrical computers and digital processing systems.

Overall, women held 18 percent of all patents granted in 2010, compared to the 14 percent they had a decade earlier. In 1990, they earned only 9 percent.

The share of trademarks granted to women nearly doubled within a 30-year span. In 1980, women were granted just under 17 percent of all trademarks to individuals or sole proprietorships, or 189. In 2010, they represented 33 percent, earning 6,533 trademarks. That number was a slight dip from the all-time high in 2008, when women received 7,274 trademarks, 32 percent of all trademarks granted.

The top five industries with the highest participation in trademark activity by women were advertising and business, clothing, education and entertainment and “miscellaneous services – scientific and technological services and design.”

The details are part of an extensive review of patents granted between 1975 and 2010 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The study also examined trademarks filed and granted from 1980 and 2010.

(From the press release)