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Patent: Africa missing as WIPO releases women inventors’ report

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  • Korea breaking records,
  • Women were listed in 31% of the 243,500 international patent applications published by WIPO in 2017

Still in the mood of Girls in ICT which is marked globally on April 26, it is important to bring to fore a missing link in our technological advancement- patent.

Of course, patent gives an inventor or designer the right to stop others from copying, manufacturing, selling or importing your invention without your permission.

Simply put, patent is about protecting your intellectual property; probably for a for a pre-determined period, allowing you to keep competitors in check.

Thus, joining the global celebration for 2018 Girls in ICT Day, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) released a new report which shows highest-ever rate of women investors, but with attendant persistent gender gap and more concern is that it appears African women aren’t registering their inventions for patents.

On the flip side, Korean women are currently the record breakers. According to the report released on WIPO’s website, the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and chemistry show the highest rates of women named as inventors in international patent applications filed via WIPO, new figures indicate, as World IP Day 2018 celebrates women driving positive change across the globe.

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.”

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 percent), USA’s Dow Global Technologies (63%) and Germany’s Henkel Kommanditgesellchaft Auf Aktien with 62 percent.

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%).