Congressman Addresses ALC Panel: “The Inventor’s Patent Academy: Training the Next Generation of Black Inventors and Entrepreneurs.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04), Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property & the Internet, delivered the following remarks at the opening day of the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference for a panel on: “The Inventor’s Patent Academy: Training the Next
Generation of Black Inventors and Entrepreneurs.”
Good morning and thank you for inviting me to speak to you all today. It is an honor to help you kick off this important panel that highlights the underrepresentation of Black people, and of women, as inventors in our patent system—and even better, proposes solutions to address this gap.
I don’t want to keep you from hearing from this remarkable group of innovators, entrepreneurs, and the lawyers and policymakers who support them. But I will briefly note that when I took the helm as chair of the House’s Intellectual Property Subcommittee in 2019, one of my first orders of business was holding a hearing that examined the equity of our IP system and the importance of diversity in patenting.
The lack of diversity calls into question whether there is an equal opportunity for all of these underrepresented groups to live up to their full potential. When women and minorities are not in the innovation pipeline, or if they leave because they don’t feel welcome, we are losing sources for increased innovation. We are leaving talent on the table, and frankly, we are leaving talent behind.
I am heartened that there are so many who have responded to the alarm we tried to raise about this issue, with such enthusiasm and dedication.
Each of you is playing a part in a tradition that is centuries old and considered so essential that the Founders placed it in the Constitution.
What began as a clause granting Congress the power to promote the sciences and arts has blossomed into an IP system that has been integral to our country’s success. But we cannot be complacent—we must make
sure that this success is open to all.
Thank you again for inviting me here today, and I wish you all a productive and educational discussion.