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TIPA Helps Innovators Navigate the Patent Process

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March 21, 2024

Do you know how to patent your invention? If you have questions about the patent process, TIPA has answers.

The Inventor’s Patent Academy (TIPA), created in partnership by Qualcomm and Invent Together, is a free patent education course that supports historically underrepresented inventors in understanding patenting, intellectual property, and how to navigate the patenting system. Invent Together is an alliance of universities, nonprofits, companies, and other stakeholders dedicated to understanding the diversity gaps in invention and patenting and supporting public policy and private efforts to close them. Qualcomm is a global innovation leader with over 140,000 patents and applications.

TIPA was created to help close the diversity gaps in patenting. The United States Patent Trademark Office (USPTO) and leading researchers have found that women, people of color, and individuals with lower incomes patent inventions at disproportionately lower rates than their demographic population size. For example, only 1 in 8 listed inventors globally is a woman, and children in the top 1% of family income are 10 times more likely to patent in their lifetimes than children in the entire bottom half of family income. A lack of patent education is one of the reasons for the disparities.

The course, developed by a team of inventors, patent holders, entrepreneurs, and leaders in the diversity, equity and inclusion field, is composed of three modules broken down into lessons of approximately 10 minutes, allowing for completion on a personalized timeline. Since launching in July 2022, TIPA has enrolled over 2,000 students, the vast majority—83% of voluntary survey respondents—are from historically underrepresented groups, underscoring its effectiveness in fostering inclusivity within the innovation ecosystem. 

WEPAN partnered with Qualcomm to host a webinar series exploring topics covered in The Inventor’s Patent Academy, with each of the three webinars aligning with a TIPA module. The first webinar, “Promoting Equitable Innovation,” featured four inventors who shared their patent successes and challenges as well as strategies, tools, and tips for navigating the patent journey, and is available to watch here. The second webinar, “Understanding Patent Law,” covered the specifics of patents, patent rights, and duration, including the steps of applying for a patent and the professionals, such as patent attorneys and patent agents, who play a key role in the process, and is available to watch here. The third webinar, "Working with the Patent Office," covered how to write claims, office actions and responses, and activities that occur after a patent issue, and is available to watch here.

TIPA is designed for a broad audience, including aspiring inventors, students, and individuals curious about intellectual property. Throughout the course, participants gain practical knowledge about the patenting process and hear from real inventors about the challenges and opportunities of bringing their inventions to life. The course is listed as a learning resource by the USPTO. In addition to TIPA, other resources from the USPTO can provide valuable insights and connections for a successful invention journey, such as the Patent Pro Bono Program, the First-Time Filer Expedited Pilot Program, and the USPTO Inventor & Entrepreneur Resource Hub.

TIPA is just one way Invent Together and Qualcomm are working to close the patent gap. Invent Together supported the Inventor Diversity for Economic Advancement Act of 2021, which would require the USPTO to request demographic information from the inventor on each patent application. In In 2018, Qualcomm and Invent Together also advocated for the passing of the Study of Underrepresented Classes Chasing Engineering and Science Success (SUCCESS) Act which identifies and analyzes data on patents obtained by women, minorities, and veterans, and provides legislative recommendations to promote their participation in entrepreneurship and increase patent applications.

Ultimately, TIPA's goal of greater inclusion in the innovation ecosystem means an increase of perspectives and ideas in the innovation pipeline. The more diverse voices in inventing and patenting are empowered, the more diverse solutions can be created to the world's diverse problems.

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