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A legal based evaluation and discussion of the gender discrepancy in the intellectual property industry.

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Intellectual property (IP) is protected by the law. 1 The law grants an individuals’ creation a monopoly as a return for their creativity. 2 It generates incentives for creativity, for the benefit of both the creators and the society at large. 3 Intellectual property rights (IPR’s) are imperative to foster innovation and creativity in society. The protection allows for individuals to embrace the originality of what they have invented or created as recognition and gain from whatever financial benefit could occur. Therefore, the purpose of IP law would fail if it failed to identify creators. There is growing evidence that current IP laws and policies have failed to identify and prioritise many creators, including women. 4 Although being an international issue, South Africa (SA) has a greater gender discrepancy within the IP industry and very little improvement is shown compared to other countries. 5 Africa is a continent that has been seen to be patriarchal and lack gender equity.6 Therefore, in specifically African and patriarchal countries, like South Africa, it is important to encourage IP regulation, to increase the participation and rights of women in the IP industry. Ultimately, aiding towards a decrease in the gender discrepancy in the IP industry. Findings will show that more can and should be done by the legislature for a faster progression. The following dissertation aims to discuss policy reform and development with reference to IP law. It suggests that the progress to eliminate the gender discrepancy seen in the IP industry is too slow and focuses on IP policy development. Additionally, the historical treatment of women, past laws, and current statistics will be discussed. Understanding this will guide an appropriate suggestion towards successful policy reform and implementation. Moreover, the IP industry, as per the title of this dissertation, encompasses all aspects of IP, such as the ownership, inventorship, and legal aspects of the field. Additionally, there are various factors that differentiate women including race, disability, economic circumstances and social circumstances, to name a few. In terms of this dissertation women will be discussed as a group. However, consideration will be given to women from developing countries when appropriate. 1 S Gregory ‘Intellectual Property Rights and South Africa’s Innovative Future’ (2008) 23 Trade Policy Report. 2 Ibid. 3 D L Burk ‘Bridging the gender gap in intellectual property’, available at, accessed on 7 August 2021. 4 Ibid. 5 J Berger and A Rens ‘Innovation and Intellectual Property in South Africa: The Case for Reform’ April 2018, available at case-for-reform-accessibsa-april-2018/file.html, accessed on 1 March 2021. 6 The World Bank ‘Gender Equality: Why it Matters, Especially in a Time of Crisis’ 2020, available at, accessed on 3 May 2021.


Masters degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.