The Black American Inventor’s Low Participation in the US Patent System

There are many obstacles that prevent African-American Inventors from participating in the US patent system. This article addresses the barriers to success faced by these innovators. Given the heightened violence and lawlessness in many areas, it is especially challenging for these individuals to pursue their dream of becoming an inventor. However, there is hope! These authors have compiled the following list of solutions to overcome these barriers.

Inventors of African-American origin

Research has shown that the US patent system fails to adequately recognize the contributions of African-American inventors. In a study published in the Journal of Science and Technology, researchers from Michigan State University found that African-Americans accounted for only six out of every one million patents granted. However, many of these patents were successful. As a result, there is no way to tell exactly how many African-American inventors there are in the system.

The decline in African-American inventor participation in the US patent system may have been caused by a number of factors. Violence and racial inequality were common factors during Reconstruction. In Tulsa, Okla., a white racist mob decimated the Black business community. In addition, segregation laws and patent attorneys were confined to white-only commercial districts, which made it harder for Blacks to file patents.

A number of studies have also found that Black and white patenting rates are higher in certain states. Among the northern states, White patenting rates are higher than those of Blacks. These findings are consistent with theories that Northern states provide better opportunities for learning and practicing. However, these findings suggest that these differences are not caused by race or ethnicity but rather by region. Regardless of race, however, the rate of Black patenting is significantly lower in northern states than in southern states.

One reason for the discrepancy is that Blacks in northern states were more likely to obtain a patent than their southern counterparts. While this discrepancy was not consistent throughout U.S. history, Black patenting rates in the northern regions were higher than those of other regions. In contrast, blacks in the southern region were three times less likely to get a patent than their white counterparts. Thus, systemic racism was a more significant factor in limiting Black inventors’ ability to obtain a patent.

Impediments to a career of inventing

This low participation rate is related to a number of factors, including socioeconomic class and race. For instance, girls are more likely to become inventors if they grow up in a neighborhood with a high proportion of women. Similarly, exposure to innovation in a child’s early life has a strong causal effect on a child’s propensity to become an inventor. In contrast, children born to parents who are high-income and white are more likely to become inventors. The latter factor is also related to gender. Women are still underrepresented among inventors, but it is gradually closing.

Even before the US patent system became an important part of the national innovation process, black Americans were disproportionately excluded from the benefits of patents. Because they were not considered American citizens, African-Americans were not granted the protection that a patent afforded white people. Additionally, the patent system did not recognize their inventions. As a result, many African-Americans were unable to obtain a patent for their ideas.

While the lack of access to patents is one of the most prominent barriers to pursuing a career in inventing, some African-American women are taking the reins. Lisa Ascolese, known as “The Inventress,” founded the Association for Women Inventors and Entrepreneurs, and Janet Emerson Bashen was the first black woman to receive a patent for software. Recently, Dr. Hadiyah Green won a $1 million grant for her invention, which may help treat cancer. Despite these barriers to patenting, the US patent system doesn’t actively exclude black inventors from protecting their inventions.

While there is no definitive reason for the low participation in the US patent system, this history of discrimination is reminiscent of the infamous “Invention of a Slave” opinion from 1858, in which the Attorney General declared African-American inventions to be unpatentable. The Supreme Court’s decision to reject this lawsuit was followed by legal changes that ended slavery and gave black people the right to pursue their dream of becoming an inventor.

Impediments to a career of inventing during times of increased violence

The Black community has faced a number of barriers, both financial and professional, that hinder the achievement of their dreams of being an inventor. Obtaining a patent was often difficult, requiring the assistance of a white lawyer who might have been tempted to engage in unfair practices. Nevertheless, many Black inventors were able to make significant contributions to American economic and technological development. Moreover, Black people in the North acquired technical skills, cutting-edge creativity, and scientific knowledge at high rates.

One of the most significant impediments to a career of invention was the lack of black inventors in the early days of the nation. While many people may attribute this to racism, there was actually a strong connection between Black inventors and race riots. In 1921, a white mob destroyed a thriving Black business community in Tulsa, Okla., and the subsequent violence in the city. Segregation laws made it harder for Blacks to patent their inventions, and patent attorneys were located in white only commercial districts.

Impediments to a career of inventing during times of segregation

A recent symposium examined the inequalities and discrimination faced by Black inventors, and identified ways to build a more inclusive environment for innovation. In particular, museums must acknowledge the role they have played in the history of America’s technological achievements and collect and interpret the stories of Black inventors more thoughtfully. By doing so, museums can provide a more accurate portrait of America’s technological past.

Jim Crow segregation had a cascading effect on Black inventors. Because they were excluded from mainstream institutions, they were denied access to professional engineering societies, banks, and universities. In response, generations of aspiring African-American inventors sought technical training at historically black colleges and acquired capital through entrepreneurial connections and social networks. Black inventors also formed professional organizations, including the National Society of Black Engineers, and a new group for female innovators, the Black Girls Code.

In the early 20th century, Charlotte was known for its racial harmony, but in the aftermath of the police shooting of black resident Keith Lamont Scott, the city began to struggle with racial segregation. Afterwards, it was hit by a flurry of demonstrations. And a study by historian Raj Chetty concluded that Charlotte’s poor children had a worse chance of economic mobility than their counterparts in 49 other large metro areas.

The end of the nineteenth century saw the emergence of Jim Crow laws in America, and the implementation of separate schools for black and white citizens. Jim Crow laws were a culmination of a long tradition of social stratification, and white citizens were keen to protect their racial privileges and limit the freedoms gained by Black Americans after emancipation. Segregation also led to the formation of separate churches, cemeteries, and other institutions of public life for African Americans.

Inventors and Patents From the City of Henderson
Contributions Of American Collegiate Inventors
Inventors and Patents From the City of Sunnyvale
Inventors and Patents From the City of Johnston
Free Patent Filing Assistance In Fort Worth