Dan L. Burk, Diversity Levers, 23 Duke J. Gender L. & Pol'y (2015).
Patent law is capable of prompting innovation across a wide range of technologies by virtue of flexible “policy levers” that allow patent standards to be calibrated to the impediments that characterize different economic sectors. But it has become increasingly clear that social bias also raises significant barriers to successful creativity and innovation. In this essay I argue that the same policy levers used to address economic impediments to innovation can also be used to address other social impediments to innovation. I offer as a detailed example one possible doctrinal response to the well-documented gender gap in patentable innovation. I conclude by suggesting that such doctrinal “diversity levers” are available to address innovation deficits among other underrepresented innovators, but that considerable work remains to identify when and where such intervention might be effective.
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