World Intellectual Property Day 2018: the role of women as innovators

World IP DayThe World Intellectual Property Day 2018 celebrates women inventors who promote positive change across the globe. But a profound gender gap persists in international patent applications, as noted by WIPO Director General Francis Gurry.

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Member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) initiated World IP Day in 2000 to raise public awareness about the role of IP in daily life, and to celebrate the contribution made by innovators and creators to the development of societies across the globe. World IP Day is celebrated annually on April 26, the date on which the Convention establishing WIPO entered into force in 1970.

World IP Day 2018

New data reveal that in total, women were listed in 31% of the 243,500 international patent applications published by WIPO in 2017, up from 23% a decade earlier.

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said these new data show positive trends and underlined this year’s World IP Day theme “Powering Change: Women in Innovation and Creativity.” But he noted that a pronounced gender gap exists.

“Today we celebrate the innovative, creative accomplishments of women around the globe and across history who expand the frontiers of knowledge and culture,” said Mr. Gurry. “However, international patent applications are an important benchmark for measuring innovative activity in the contemporary, global economy - and anything less than full parity between men and women is an obvious cause for concern.”

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Fifty percent of applications from the Republic of Korea listed at least one woman inventor, the highest among the 152 user countries of WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), followed by China (48%), Belgium (36%), Spain (35%) and the United States of America (33%).

Mr. Gurry said he was heartened by the comparatively high rates of women participating in the research-intensive areas of biotechnology (58% of all WIPO international patent applications in 2017), pharmaceuticals (56%), organic fine chemistry (55%) and food chemistry (51%).

Of the top 30 biggest corporate users of the PCT, Republic of Korea’s LG Chemicals had the highest rate of women listed as inventors with 73%, followed by Switzerland’s F. Hoffman –La Roche (69%), L’Oreal of France (67%), USA’s Dow Global Technologies (63%) and Germany’s Henkel Kommanditgesellchaft Auf Aktien with 62%.

Among academic institutions, Republic of Korea’s Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute of Korea ranked first with 83.3%, followed closely by four Chinese organizations: Shenzhen Institute of Advance Technology (82.7%), Jiangnan University (82.5%), Tsinghua University (80%) and Jiangsu University (80%).

> WIPO Data