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APEC IPEG 02 2021 – Women and Patents in the APEC Region: Current Situation, Performance, and Challenges

Women inventors’ continuous underrepresentation in patent applications indicates that a vast range of talent is not put at the disposal of humanity to address pressing social and environmental needs and challenges, as well as to increase the overall competitiveness of economies. To study the gender disparities in the patent system, APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) hired Tambourine Innovation Ventures (TIV) to implement the “IPEG 02 2021 - Women in Patents in the APEC Region: Current Situation, Performance and Challenges” project. This is a particularly significant project, as no similar study has been performed before in APEC as a regional group concerning patents or intellectual property (IP).

To assess women's current situation and challenges in using patents and utility models, TIV utilized various sources to collect data and qualitative and quantitative information on women inventors and the patent systems of APEC member economies. TIV's team conducted an online Qualtrics survey shared across the 21 APEC member economies' IP offices and lengthy interviews with five APEC IP officials and representatives from Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, the Philippines, and the US. Similarly, the team interviewed five female inventors from four economies to elicit real-world problems women experience while patenting their inventions. Additionally, to develop and distill benchmarks for APEC economies, a deep dive into publications, statistics from relevant sources (WIPO, OECD, UN, IMF, World Bank), and reports from IP offices (both within and outside of APEC) was conducted by the TIV team of experts.

TIV’s report condensed a wide range of information to better understand women inventors’ participation in the patent landscape across APEC and the importance of promoting and supporting women in utilizing patents as an intellectual property tool to foster gender equality, sustainable economic growth, and social development. The report provided critical non-binding recommendations for APEC member economies on encouraging and facilitating the involvement of women inventors in the IP system. Additionally, the report aimed to encourage future young women and girls to pursue careers in STEM and interact with the patent system by sharing the stories of successful women inventors who have successfully obtained patent protection for their inventions.

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