The Idea That Women Need More Patents, Copyrights And Trademarks Shows Up In Newly Proposed Law

from the missing-the-point dept

Last month, we reported on some silly research that suggested the economy would grow massively if we could just convince women to get more patents. The whole thing was based on some fundamentally silly assumptions related to thinking that patents are a proxy for either innovation or economic growth. They are not. Plenty of studies have shown no link between patents and actual innovation — and lots of other studies have shown that patents seem to be costing the economy a lot more than helping it.

Unfortunately, however, it appears this idea that women need more patents has somehow made its way to Congress in a new bill — and (just for fun) it also says the same about copyrights and trademarks. Senator Olympia Snowe (with Senator Mary Landrieu) have introduced S.3196 to create a “National Women’s High-Growth Business Bipartisan Task Force.” By itself, that seems like a good idea. It’s no secret that the tech industry has a much higher percentage of men than women, and there’s been quite a reasonable concern about why that is and if it’s healthy for innovation and the economy. And most of the proposal seems reasonable, if somewhat unlikely to accomplish anything meaningful.

But, then there’s this part, which says that among the duties of the task force will be to:

examine the link between women who own small business concerns and intellectual property, including—

(A) the number of patents, trademarks, and copyrights granted to women; and

(B) the challenges faced by high-growth small business concerns owned and controlled by women in obtaining and enforcing intellectual property rights.

Once again, this is merely making the assumption that women need to get more patents, trademarks and copyright — and that they need help “enforcing” them. Why make such an assumption? Why not start with a more neutral question that explores whether or not such government granted monopoly privileges actually help innovation or the economy? It seems weird to immediately jump to the conclusion that women need more IP.

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Comments on “The Idea That Women Need More Patents, Copyrights And Trademarks Shows Up In Newly Proposed Law”

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34 Comments
Jay (profile) says:

Few extra thoughts.

Senator Snowe is retiring. With her retirement, she can propose legislation but I highly doubt it will pass.

However, she was facing a Tea Party challenge that would makes her motives for retirement sketchy. Further, being a part of a for profit college scandal should raise eyebrows. What I’m weaning from this is that Snowe is using her position to try to help make profit when she gets out of the position. Odds are when she gets out of office, she might just decide to hold some patents and use them for different teaching methods and she will use the law to continuously enforce this crony capitalist system.

Meanwhile, I have to question why Senator Landrieu is a part of this. Her expertise seems to be healthcare and business. Why not focus on those two issues with Senator Wyden and get some much needed guidance on better systems in place instead of this foolish legislation that does nothing?

arcan (profile) says:

instead of screaming we need to be equal to men in everything and then passing laws that have nothing to do with inequality, why don’t women do a bit of equality that is actually useful and make women subject to the selective service.
in my opinion it is their choice to get patents. considering the shear number of patents that have been approved they really don’t have any lesser chance of getting one than a man. but since less women are attracted to the fields where patents are common there is really nothing the government can or should do about this situation.
however the fact that they can not be drafted is completely unequal. which never seems to be brought up by female advocacy groups. it is always the less pay, we get treated worse, blah blah blah routine. so instead of promoting completely pointless legislation that will only sink money we do not have into a sector that is unattractive to females by their choice, why doesn’t legislation get introduced that would actually fix a serious inequality in this country that no longer exists for an actual, justifiable, reason.

btw let the feminist crucifixion of this post begin.

MrWilson says:

Re: Re:

Plenty of other countries have done just fine with women in the military, even with obligatory service like in Israel.

I think it’s fine to sign women up for selective service because the draft is so unpopular after Vietnam that the next politician who wants to use it will have to think long and hard about their re-election campaign before making that decision.

The Mighty Buzzard (profile) says:

Re: Re:

As a vet myself, I’ve no beef with women not having to register for the draft. It’s not that I’m against them serving. I’m not. Not remotely. The women I served with were a credit to the uniform.

The reason you lot have never been required to register for the draft is so old the pointy stick was cutting edge weaponry when it was decided. You’re less expendable for species/national survival reasons. I don’t see that changing until we start running into overpopulation problems.

Soma (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m amused. I agree women should be subject to the same laws as men. But please don’t forget it is the male lawmakers crying out that women should not be subject to selective service, front line combat, etc. Getting back on the actual subject of this article, I believe this law is not effective or productive, sir.
Sincerely,
A feminist rant, oops, I mean a woman who disagrees with you.

arcan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

i don’t actually have a problem with you disagreeing with me. it’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it. i just half expected to get yelled at for that comment. i know a lot of people who are so concerned about politically correct that you would get a 10-15 minute lecture on how referring to someone as a woman vs a female is so degrading…

Paul says:

Free Lunch Laws!

With women now taking up a much higher % of public office posts we will inevitably see more of them wasting time and public money pushing laws that favor… wait for it… women!

This seems to fit in the same category as the Global push to make laws that require a % of boards seats go to women….

There’s nothing stopping women founding start-ups that grow from the ground up to become multi-nationals, yet it’s virtually un-hear of for women to take these early risks .. so I don’t see the logic behind laws that require women to be installed in an organisation but only after all the biggest risks have been taken by men!

These proposed laws have to expect accusations of cherry picking!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Regulatory And Tax Burden

Well, at least the congress critters have realised that it might be a good idea to encourage the growth of the economy. They have managed to use the words “High-Growth Business”. That is a start. They are at least dimly aware that the US getting out of its economic difficulties, is going to involve the growth of business. But, as usual, they have no idea how to go about it.

The jobs generator in the economy is small business. Take a look at the awesome difficulties that face anybody trying to start a business. A lot of those difficulties are caused by the regulatory and tax burden. Congress could be spending its time rationalising the blizzard of government forms that businesses have to fill out. Congress could be helping small businesses to quickly and easily conform to regulations, then get on with running the business.

Did you know that the main killer of new small business is not getting paid? The business does some work or supplies something, then the customer declines to pay. Usually, they get away with it. Congress, how about fixing that? But all that would be much too much like hard work. Grandstanding is better.

Congress appears to be totally unaware of what an economic disaster area the patent system is. Many, many promising start-ups have been killed by patent trolls. Ask any of the venture capitalists. How are you going to grow your business sector when it is being killed? If congress critters really wanted to do something useful with their lives, then they would abolish the patent system. Making the terrible, failed patent system bigger, is the exact wrong thing to do.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m not touching the comment above, except to point out that, as a woman at a tech startup 10 years ago, I felt pretty isolated for over a year until other women began to be hired. There may be a correlation between the “boys club” mentality that many small tech companies foster and women’s unwillingness to work for them. Just sayin’.

Aside from that, I don’t think initiatives like this address the real issues. I would prefer programs that focused on getting women trained, getting us jobs, and getting us equal pay for equal work. If more than 50% of college grads in U.S. are now women, there’s no reason we can’t also begin to chip away at barriers in the remaining male-dominated fields. Having some encouragement in that direction wouldn’t hurt. But patents and trademarks? No. That addresses entirely the wrong end of the problem.

Trenchman says:

Re: Re:

The only real problem is that women, going both by personal experience and statistics, just don’t seem as interested in male dominated fields, and that’s the main reason that they remain male dominated, women just aren’t as interested in those industries.

Also, the studies that say women make less than men are largely flawed. Many of them don’t separate jobs, regions, experience, and in some cases education. It’s already illegal to pay women less for the same work, if it was so prevalent, companies would be getting sued left and right.

And third, I don’t think it’s the governments business regardless of whether these things are true. I think that a company should be able to hire/fire anyone they want for whatever reason they want. If a woman wants to hire only women, she should be able to. If a man wants to only hire men, let him. If I only want to hire Elvis impersonators who moonlight as clowns, I should be allowed to. Then it’s the medias job to inform people of their business practices, and the consumers choice whether or not to support them.

I just dislike the government being treated as though it should have the last say in everything. Not everything is there business.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I already told you where I worked, and you tell me women lack interest? I don’t see that in my group of friends. Besides, the same argument was historically used to explain women’s lack of participation in a number of fields where we now do very well.

Please point out an individual study that was flawed. Though personal anecdotes are not necessarily grounds for generalization, my personal experience has supported the theory of women making less. I made the least money in my company, was asked to answer the phone and pretend to be the secretary of the president, an was asked to be the office manager and set up an HR department despite having no experience. There is no logical explanation for any of that other than my gender. There were men on my team who contributed a great deal less in term of code. But go ahead and live in a world where everyone is equal and all we have to do to prove it is talk about study methodology and the fact that I never sued but left instead.

I happen to agree with you that I don’t want the government doing this particular project. However, I think it is, in fact, part of our government’s job to encourage and support the equality it espouses. It is also the job of individuals.

I have yet to see a woman who hires only women, but I’ve seen plenty of men who hire only men, or all men except one token woman.

Chris says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I already told you where I worked, and you tell me women lack interest? I don’t see that in my group of friends. Besides, the same argument was historically used to explain women’s lack of participation in a number of fields where we now do very well.

Well, doing very well and having interest could be two different things. For example, suppose you have a woman and a man in the same job. The man is there because he worked really hard to get this job that he had his heart set on. The woman is there because she was offered a full scholarship if she pursued that particular field. Tell me who you expect would have more interest in their job? I’m sure that’s not the case with everyone but it’s an example of the kind of results under our current system.

my personal experience has supported the theory of women making less. I made the least money in my company, was asked to answer the phone and pretend to be the secretary of the president, an was asked to be the office manager and set up an HR department despite having no experience. There is no logical explanation for any of that other than my gender

It’s impossible for you to know that for sure. As you pointed out earlier, personal anecdotes are a flawed way to reach a general conclusion. I’d be weary of any study that claimed to examine wage gaps between genders. There are too many variables. There are a lot of little areas where men might actually do more work in the same job. For example if heavy boxes need to be moved it’s socially expected that the man do that task, even if it’s not their job. And then there’s maternity leave. Another huge barrier to equality is that men are refused admission to college unless they register with selective services.

I happen to agree with you that I don’t want the government doing this particular project. However, I think it is, in fact, part of our government’s job to encourage and support the equality it espouses. It is also the job of individuals.

I guess it depends whether you support equal opportunities or equal outcomes. It’s impossible to have both at the same time. I’ll take de facto discrimination over de jure discrimination any day.

Anonymous Coward says:

the real problem with our economy

The government needs to figure out how to pay for 50-100 trillion dollars worth of entitlement (think medicaid, medicare, and social security) and defense expenditures that are currently underfunded.

Anything that makes young people work cheaply in the medical and defense industries to provide those services at a discount (think “bend the cost curve down”) probably won’t be met with obstruction in the form of “intellectual property” or other government bullcrap.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: the real problem with our economy

Anything that makes young people work cheaply in the medical and defense industries to provide those services at a discount (think “bend the cost curve down”) probably won’t be met with obstruction in the form of “intellectual property” or other government bullcrap.

If only that were so. Licensure and training programs are highly limiting deliberately, to create artificial barriers against exactly the sort of solution you’re proposing, and the special interest groups behind those barriers are very powerful. Aside from which, education costs are so high right now that no one making lower pay could actually pay off their loans. Fix that problem first, then you might have some leverage within those communities.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: the real problem with our economy

I think you overestimate the money and time you need to spend training to be an orderly, a nurse, or to drive people around.

It’s also not a “solution”. It’s a comment on how bad government policy is destroying the wealth building capacity of this country.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: the real problem with our economy

RN? 2-4 years, generally.

The question is, who do you want putting on your IV, monitoring your condition, giving you your medication, and helping perform CPR – a kid with 2 months of training or someone with several years? My mom (an RN) used to put in her own IVs while she was sick, because the people who make house calls were less trained and tended to make a mess of her arm.

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