Small business owner urges Senate to improve patent process

by | Apr 30, 2021 | Patents |

SheFly’s origins are on Alaska’s Mendenhall Glacier, where the company’s co-founder spent the summer of 2016 working as a guide. Georgia Grace Edwards spent 8 to 12 hours per day on ice, so quite naturally, she occasionally had to answer the call of nature. To do so, she had to hike away from the group for privacy, peel off several layers of clothing (exposing her to subzero cold), go, put the clothing back on and hike back.

Her male co-workers, on the other hand, could simply turn away, unzip and go.

Edwards knew then that there had to be a better way for women adventurers.

Taking care of business

Today, SheFly makes outdoor pants with a unique design that allows “women on the go to go,” the company’s website says.

In a recent U.S. Senate Intellectual Property Subcommittee hearing devoted to improving access and inclusivity in the patent system, Edwards talked about a process she described as slow and confusing.

“Intellectual property rights do not come easily, especially for traditionally underrepresented groups,” Edwards testified.

Smoothing the path

She urged legislators to make it easier for small businesses to obtain financing to secure intellectual property rights, and she called on them to improve educational outreach to “make the patenting path a bit smoother for those who walk it next, especially for those who currently do not see themselves reflected in the process.”

Senator Patrick Leahy, chair of the subcommittee, said he hopes the patent process can be reshaped to “tap into the diverse segments of our society” that are “brimming with brilliant ideas to change the world.”