Every 26 of April, the world takes a step back to celebrate the extraordinary innovations and creative feats encompassed within the seemingly mundane definition of “Intellectual Property”. This is also an occasion to educate non-IP professionals about the crucial role that Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights & Designs and Models play in fostering creative development, in building the world around us. This year’s celebration focuses on the ground-breaking contributions of women to the world of Intellectual Property.
At its simplest definition, Intellectual Property can be understood as “intangible property that is the result of creativity”. Windshield wipers, Kevlar, the game of Monopoly, life rafts, radiography, X-ray, the first computer program and the visual representation of our very DNA. All examples of Intellectual Property. All invented or developed by women.
The Game of Monopoly, invented by Elizabeth Magie
Photo credit: Mark Strozier Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Marie Curie, physicist and chemist
Photo Credit: rosefirerising Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
The only person to win a Noble in two fields? Marie Curie. Her work earned her the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903 and for chemistry in 1911. The inventor of “frequency hopping” technology we use in Wi-Fi and GPS systems today? Actress Hedy Lamarr who developed this in cooperation with George Antheil to serve as an unhackable remote-controlled torpedo-guidance system. From the chocolate chip cookie to spray-on skin medical treatments for burn victims, female innovators made our lives easier, safer, more enjoyable.
Yet, according to WIPO records, of the 585 Nobel Prizes granted since 1901, just 48 have been awarded to women. For very long women have laboured without receiving the appropriate recognition. Indeed, James Watson and Francis Crick are always associated to the discovery of the DNA’s double helix structure, but Rosalind Franklin’s crucial contribution was only recognised posthumously. The documentation, assertion and protection of Intellectual Property is a key process in innovation to ensure that credit is given, ideas recognised and those who create are able to continue to do so with all the necessary support.
For more information on women in the world of IP, check out the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s website, who through quizzes, events and information campaigns shine a light on the innovative women of our world: http://www.wipo.int/ip-outreach/en/ipday/