Leahy, New Intellectual Property Subcommittee Chair, On Wednesday Leads Inaugural Hearing Featuring Testimony From Vermont-Based Company

(TUESDAY, April 20, 2021) – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt), the new chairman of the Senate’s Subcommittee On Intellectual Property – a subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee -- will chair the panel’s inaugural hearing in the new Congress, focused on improving diversity within the U.S. Patent system, at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 21.

The hearing, entitled “Improving Access and Inclusivity in the Patent System: Unleashing America’s Economic Engine,” will feature testimony from Georgia Grace Edwards, a graduate of Middlebury College and co-founder of the Burlington-based apparel company SheFly.

The hearing will explore issues surrounding access to and participation in the U.S. Patent system, particularly among groups that are currently and that historically have been underrepresented in that system.  A recent report by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office found that only 22 percent of U.S. patents list a woman as an inventor and that women make up only 12.8 percent of all inventors.  Additional research shows that African Americans patent at half the rate of white Americans, further underscoring the importance of boosting participation in the patent system.

SheFly, an apparel company that makes outdoor pants with an innovative zipper design created with women in mind, was established with the assistance of the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies.  Leahy believes that SheFly’s story underscores why it is essential to bring new perspectives into American’s innovation stream.  

The Intellectual Property Subcommittee hearing is set for 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 21, and will be livestreamed on the Senate Judiciary Committee website.

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