Celebrating female inventors on World IP Day!

Happy world IP day to all IPKat readers! 

The theme of this years WIPD is "Powering change: Women in innovation and creativity". In a statement, WIPO Director Francis Gurry explains that the day is for "celebrating the talents and accomplishments of women inventors and creators around the globe". On cue, IPKat celebrates some important female inventors in IP that we should all know! 
Mary Phelps Jacob
- the inventor who delivered us from corsets
The blogosphere was abound with lists of historical female inventors for International Women's Day 2018, many including:
  • Mary Phelps Jacob (the bra, US1115674, 1914)
  • Maria Beasley (life raft, US226264, 1880)
  • Letitia Mumford Geer (one-handed operated syringes, US622848, 1899)
  • Mary Anderson (windscreen wiper, US743801, 1903)
  • Josephine Cochrane (dishwasher, US1223380, 1917) 
  • Stephanie Kwolek (Kevlar, US3287323, 1966)
But what about modern day female inventors? Here is a list of some of this Kat's favorite:

First on our list is Dr Ann Tuskmaoto, co-inventor of a method for isolating human haemopoeitic stem cells (HSCs) capable of regeneration and differentiation in culture (US5061620, 1990). HSCs are adult stem cell that go on to form the red and white cells of the blood. The ability to isolate and grow these cells in the lab has facilitated important research into lymphoma. HSC transplantation is also now a widely adopted lymphoma therapy.

Dr Laura van‘t Veer (Merck), winner of the 2015 European Inventor award and the 2014 European Women Innovators Prize, is a researcher in the field of personal medicine, and part of the team responsible for a gene based breast cancer test that evaluates tumour tissue for the 10-year risk of cancer recurrence (EP1410011). The test allows women to make informed decisions about whether to opt for surgery or chemotherapy. 

In the field of pharmaceuticals, notable inventors include Rachel Fuller Brown and Elizabeth Lee Hazen, co-inventors of the first anti-fungal Nystatin (Mycostatin). Nystatin is the penicillin equivalent for fungal infections, and can be used to protect immuno-compromised (e.g. AIDS) patients and burns victims from devastating fungal infections. Brown and Hazen donated the 13.4 million USD royalties from the Nystatin patent to a nonprofit research foundation: Research Corporation for Scientific Advancement. Brown and Hazen were the first women to receive the Chemical Pioneer Award from the American Institute of Chemists.

Brown and Hazen - inventors of the first anti-fungal

Mandy Haberman, vice chair of IPAN, is the British inventor of the Anywayup Cup (GB 2266045) a baby cup that does not spill, a case study in how to successfully protect and market your invention against large industry players. Haberman successfully took a leading manufacturer of baby goods Jackel International to court for patent infringement (Haberman v Jackel International [1999] FSR 683). Haberman has received frequent mentions here on IPKat (see here).

Ann Lambrechts, winner of the 2011 European Inventor Award and head R&D of Building Products at Bekaert, played a pivotal role in the invention of Dramix steel fibers for increasing the strength and stability of concrete. The Dramix fibers improve the bending strength of concrete by 32%, opening up a new world of exciting architectural possibilities, particularly in the mining and tunnel industries. 

China's CCTV headquarters, Beijing - built with Dramix
Finally, no list of modern day of inventors would be complete without mention of Herta Heuwer, inventor in 1949 Berlin of the famous German delicacy, the curry wurst. Heuwer patented her "chillup" sauce in 1951 (DE721319).

Heuwer - inventor of the curry wurst
The importance of education

In other news this week, the suffragist Millicent Fawcett became the first female to be honored with a statue in parliament square. Millicent Fawcett was also the co-founder of Newnham College Cambridge, only the second college in Cambridge to admit female students (after Girton College, of which this Kat is a proud alumna). A reminder that access to education has not always been straightforward for those with two X chromosomes. 

Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square
Photo credits: Millicent Fawcett statue by Hayleigh Bosher

Author: Rose Hughes
Celebrating female inventors on World IP Day! Celebrating female inventors on World IP Day! Reviewed by Rose Hughes on Thursday, April 26, 2018 Rating: 5


  1. Surely any list of famous female inventors, especially one on an internet blog that many people are presumably accessing using a WiFi network, should include Hedy Lamarr (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedy_Lamarr)?

  2. What about Hedy Lamarr (or Hedy Kiesler Markey, the married name under which she filed)?

  3. Or Elizabeth Holmes:

    recently charged with fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission and subject to criminal investigation for making false claims about the"revolutionary blood tests" she "invented".

  4. Perhaps overlooked because Hedy was not the sole inventor, the patent being made in the joint names of Hedy Keisler Markey and George Antheil. In addition, the patent seems to have been completely overlooked, delaying the development of the technology by a couple of decades. Prima facie, its innovative use of digital technology was re-invented from scratch in ignorance of the patent by engineers who had previously been developing analogue spread-spectrum implementations. Its main impact on IP seems to have been to necessitate the reissue of a number of spread-spectrum patents with claims of considerably-restricted scope when the technology was declassified, allowing previously-secret patents to be issued.


All comments must be moderated by a member of the IPKat team before they appear on the blog. Comments will not be allowed if the contravene the IPKat policy that readers' comments should not be obscene or defamatory; they should not consist of ad hominem attacks on members of the blog team or other comment-posters and they should make a constructive contribution to the discussion of the post on which they purport to comment.

It is also the IPKat policy that comments should not be made completely anonymously, and users should use a consistent name or pseudonym (which should not itself be defamatory or obscene, or that of another real person), either in the "identity" field, or at the beginning of the comment. Current practice is to, however, allow a limited number of comments that contravene this policy, provided that the comment has a high degree of relevance and the comment chain does not become too difficult to follow.

Learn more here: http://ipkitten.blogspot.com/p/want-to-complain.html

Powered by Blogger.