The patent process
Applying for a patent can be a lengthy and complex process, and the #MakeWhatsNext Patent Program sets out to simplify it.
Having a patent has many benefits. A patent protects an idea from theft, spurs others to innovate alternative solutions, and creates a market for ideas where others pay fees to inventors for access to the intellectual property.
Microsoft is a champion of intellectual property and encourages its employees to file for patents to protect their ideas. This same spirit is what brought the #MakeWhatsNext Patent Program to life. All patents filed under the program are in the inventor’s name.
Is your idea original? Is it useful? Is it obvious or something others could easily think of? These are the basic qualifications to consider as you determine eligibility of your idea.
Microsoft patent lawyers vet all prospective teams’ ideas to ensure their inventions are patent-eligible.
Keep records of your progress. Good records help protect you and your idea, in the special case your patent is challenged or infringed on.
The patent lawyers advise teams on how and what to document in order to protect ideas and create a thorough application.
Hiring a lawyer can help you navigate the process. Patent lawyers not only have to pass the bar, but they must also pass a thorough examination through the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO).
All legal expertise and application fees are covered pro bono by the Microsoft patent law department, at an estimated value of $50,000.
Patents cover three basic varieties of invention: design, plant, or utility. Determine which category your invention falls under.
The lawyers participating in the Patent Program help to navigate the application process, and they make sure that all submitted applications are thoroughly completed.
A US provisional patent is not required, but it allows you to be the first to claim your invention—deeming your invention “patent pending.”
The patent lawyers take care of filing your application and ensure that all teams have a “patent pending” status while waiting for the USPTO to fully review applications.
Once your paperwork is in, the USPTO will determine when your idea can be patented. This process takes time and patience.
While waiting for the USPTO to review applications, the Patent Program provides support through the Patent Advisory Board. This board of incredible female executives across disciplines at Microsoft assists the inventors to continue to innovate and bring their ideas to life.
Patent Program teams
Meet the amazing female inventors working to change the world one invention and patent at a time.
Heart & Sole
An all-girl high school team from Pomona, California, developed an at-home device to aid in monitoring progress and development of the health of diabetics’ feet—through the gathering of useful and relevant medical data.
This high school team developed a device designed to disrupt mosquito breeding cycles by disturbing the surface tension of stagnant water, making it difficult for mosquitos to lay eggs and/or for pupae to transition into the adult stage.
A female climate scientist developed this air-quality monitoring system that tells you what’s in the air, identifies the source of any impurities, and provides recommendations that help you and your family breathe easy.
A female MIT MBA/MPP student and her team created an app based on the Waze API that allows users to report dangerous areas in a given geography. They successfully tested their app in Mexico and continue to test in other countries.
This high school team developed an underwater camera to study the prevalence of invasive species in the Great Lakes. The camera is able to take key measurements like salinity and pH level, and they are developing a fish recognition system.
This high school team developed a smart wallet that helps people who are blind or low vision sort their money into their wallet. They were inspired after watching a TV show where a blind man received a $1 bill instead of a $20 bill at a store.
With only hours to spare at a hackathon, these female MIT engineering students developed a text-to-Braille device. When scanned over text, pins on top of the device translate the text into Braille.
Two young women from Uganda developed a mobile sickle cell diagnosis app, which allows people who aren’t doctors to diagnose sickle cell anemia with a simple app and phone attachment.
A young female doctor in India developed an IoT system to monitor the health of children in rural areas, and help prevent diseases that go unnoticed because of a lack of doctors.
This team from Greece created a virtual reality game to understand bullying. The system mimics experiences and monitors a user’s blood pressure, heart rate, and palm sweat.
Female inventors throughout history
Find examples of women, past and present, who have changed the world with their inventions.
1715 Sybilla Masters
Sybilla Masters was the first female inventor in recorded history. She invented a special way for cleaning and curing corn crops. Her patent was issued in her husband’s name by the British courts in 1715.
1809 Mary Dixon Kies
In 1809, Mary Dixon Kies was the first American woman to receive a US patent. She invented a process for weaving straw with silk or thread.
1865 Number of patents
From 1855 to 1865, women only received 10.1 patents per year while men received 3,767.
1882 Maria Beasley
In 1882, Maria Beasley was given a patent for her invention of life rafts. Her life rafts were used on the Titanic and were responsible for saving hundreds of lives.
1885 Judy W. Reed
In 1885, Judy W. Reed became the first African-American woman to get a patent for her dough kneader and roller.
1903 Mary Anderson
In 1903, Mary Anderson, a woman from Birmingham, Alabama received U.S. Patent No. 743,801 for her invention of windshield wipers.
1967 Yvonne Brill
In 1967, Yvonne Brill received a patent for her development of rocket and jet propulsion technologies.
1988 Gertrude Elion
Gertrude Elion, an influential biochemist and pharmacologist, not only received a Noble Peace Prize in 1988, but her name also appeared on 45 different patents.
1997 Patricia Billings
Patricia Billings received a patent in 1997 for a fire-resistant building material called GeoBond.
2010 Patents granted
In 2010, patents granted to women jumped 35% faster than the overall 27% increase
2013 Melonee Wise
Entrepreneur and robot designer, Melonee Wise, headed Fetch Robotics in 2013. It received its patent in 2017.
2017 Inspiring generations
In 2017, women are continuing to come up with new ideas, gaining patents, and inspiring a new generation with their creativity and innovation.
Explore #MakeWhatsNext on Twitter to see what the next generation of female inventors are creating.