International Women’s Day

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Happy International Women’s Day! To celebrate, we’re going to look at a key moment in history for both women and intellectual property.

The Patent Act of 1790 was signed by George Washington and marked the first time in American history that both men and women were given rights to their inventions[1]. However, it wasn’t until May 5th, 1809 that Mary Kies filed her invention, making her the first woman to be awarded a patent[2]. Kies invented a unique method of weaving straw with silk to make hats. At this time, the US had implemented a trade embargo with France due to the Napoleonic War. This meant items such as decorative hats that were usually imported from France were in great demand. Kies’ patent led to $500,000 worth of sales in the New England hat industry in 1810 (approximately $9 million in today’s money) earning her praise from First Lady, Dolley Madison[3]. Unfortunately, Kies’ original patent file was destroyed in a fire at the Patent Office in 1836, however, her legacy remains as the first female patent holder[4].

World Intellectual Property day is just around the corner and this year’s theme is: Powering change: Women in innovation and creativity. How will you celebrate on April 25th?

[1] USPTO

[2] America’s Library

[3] Wired

[4]History of American Women