Diversity Levers

19 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2015 Last revised: 13 Jan 2016

See all articles by Dan L. Burk

Dan L. Burk

University of California, Irvine School of Law

Date Written: September 6, 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.

Keywords: patent, diversity, gender, PHOSITA, intellectual property, gender gap, discrimination, innovation, policy levers, innovation policy

JEL Classification: O31, O32, O34, O38, J15, J16, J71, J78

Suggested Citation

Burk, Dan L., Diversity Levers (September 6, 2015). Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy, Vol. 23, 2015; UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2015-79. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2656884

Dan L. Burk (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

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949-824-9325 (Phone)

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