A Misattributed Quotation
Despite the popular myth that Charles Holland Duell, Commissioner of the U.S. Patent Office from 1898 to 1901, once said, “Everything that can be invented has been invented,” his actual statement was quite the opposite. Duell was enthralled by the potential of future discoveries, and the growth of American ingenuity as evidenced by the steadily increasing number of patent filings throughout history.
The USPTO’s Inclusive Vision
Under the guidance of Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, and Vaishali Udupa, Commissioner of Patents, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) aims to drive economic growth and innovation through inclusivity. The 2022-2026 Strategic Plan focuses on ensuring everyone has an opportunity to participate in the innovation ecosystem, promoting diversity and creativity in solving the world’s problems.
Examples of Empathetic Inventions
Inclusion in the innovation ecosystem has led to inventions that address unique issues faced by specific groups and underserved communities. For example, young inventors have created solutions for timely and accessible diabetes care, and bandages in varying skin tones. The Eyeagnosis invention uses artificial intelligence and smartphones to identify diabetic retinopathy symptoms in remote areas with limited access to medical resources.
The Importance of Intellectual Property Protection
Vidal emphasizes the significance of protecting intellectual property rights for collaboration and investment in innovations. Citing mRNA intellectual property for COVID-19 vaccines as an example, she asserts that without sufficient protection of these rights, companies would have had difficulty in collaborating and developing effective solutions for global problems. Intellectual property protection is also crucial for the growth of the U.S. economy, as it contributes to the creation of majorly impactful industries in the country.
Addressing Challenges in Patent Coverage
Some areas of innovation, such as diagnostic methods, currently lack sufficient patent coverage, leading to a lack of investment and deterred progress in those fields. Expanding the scope of patent protection to cover a greater range of inventions is a key goal for the USPTO in the pursuit of innovation and the improvement of global conditions.
Inspiration for Aspiring Innovators and Entrepreneurs
Vidal encourages those seeking to make a difference through innovation to find their authentic selves and use that genuine perspective to inspire future generations. By embracing their uniqueness, they can contribute to the growth of an inclusive and diverse innovation ecosystem and help achieve the ambitious goals of the USPTO’s 2022-2026 Strategic Plan.