Patent, trademark director advocates for women inventors

· 3 min read

Patent, trademark director advocates for women inventors

Molly Kocialski
Alyssa Amen | NUtech Ventures
NUtech Ventures hosted Molly Kocialski, USPTO regional director, for a campus visit Nov. 4-5. During a city campus keynote, she discussed the current state of female patent inventors, followed by a lecture on business-related intellectual property at the Nebraska College of Law.

Molly Kocialski’s career inspiration came early — long before she was named a regional director at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, served as legal counsel for Fortune 500 technology firms or earned a degree in chemical engineering.

It came from her dad, an engineer.

Kocialski discussed the importance of that inspiration — especially for women and groups underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — as part of a Nov. 5 lunch event hosted by NUtech Ventures and the Office of Research and Economic Development.

During her presentation, Kocialski shared findings from a new patent office report, which studied women inventors named on U.S. patents from 1976 to 2016.

Molly Kocialski, USPTO regional director, speaks to members of the campus community.

Among the report’s data: Gains in female participation in STEM fields is not leading to similar increases in female patent inventors. In 2016, women accounted for 12 percent of all inventors named on U.S. patents.

“At current rates, it will take 118 years before we reach gender parity in patenting and invention,” said Kocialski, who leads the patent office's Rocky Mountain regional office. “This is a crisis for our country. We need every brain to invent and have that exposure to innovation.”

Encouraging women to think like inventors is critical, Kocialski said. In response, the patent office has expanded its outreach efforts to reach K-12 children and develop programs that provide inclusive role models.

“Many women have an early origin story of how they became interested in STEM,” Kocialski said. “We want more people to have access to these inspirational figures and know what’s possible for them.”

Shane Farritor, Lederer Professor of mechanical and materials engineering, and Molly Kocialski, USPTO regional director, stand by a wall of patent plaques at Virtual Incision. The university spin-off company has 140 issued patents and patent applications.

While visiting Lincoln, Kocialski toured Virtual Incision at Nebraska Innovation Campus. The university spin-off company is developing miniaturized robots for general surgery abdominal procedures, such as colon resections, and has more than 140 issued patents and patent applications.

Kocialski also presented at the Nebraska College of Law during an evening event co-hosted by NUtech Ventures and the Sports, Entertainment and Business Law Student Group.

At the law college, Kocialski discussed the role of the patent office and shared intellectual property tips for business. According to Kocialski, it’s important for businesses to have an intellectual property story and be able to tell it to others, which is what her office aims to help inventors do.

“At the USPTO, we say our goal is to de-mystify intellectual property,” Kocialski said.