Lego pledges to make toys more gender-neutral and eliminate stereotypes after global survey
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Searches for Lego sets based on gender are no longer available on the company’s website.

By Amy Cheng, Washington Post

Lego, the world’s largest toymaker, has pledged to eliminate gender stereotypes from its products — including labeling that marks toys as “for girls” or “for boys” — as part of a bid to match the wishes of its young customers.

“Despite the progress made in girls brushing off prejudice at an early age, general attitudes surrounding play and creative careers remain unequal and restrictive,” the Danish company known for its colorful building blocks said in a statement on Monday, which was also the United Nations Day of the Girl. “Girls today feel increasingly confident to engage in all types of play and creative activities, but remain held back by society’s ingrained gender stereotypes as they grow older.”

Lego’s move comes amid heightened debate about the role that toys play in creating and perpetuating gender stereotypes. On Saturday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a new law requiring large retail stores in the nation’s most populous state to provide gender-neutral shopping sections for child-care items and toys beginning in 2024.

The toymaker’s announcement also comes in response to a global survey, commissioned by Lego and conducted by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, that found that parents and, to a lesser extent, their children, are still influenced by gendered notions of career. Young girls are also more willing to participate in activities that cut across “gender norms” than their male peers, the poll found.

For instance, when asked which gender immediately comes to mind upon thinking of scientists, parents from seven countries were much more likely to say “male,” researchers found, using online, opt-in surveys.

And while 82 percent of girls saw nothing wrong with them playing soccer and boys doing ballet, only 71 percent of their male counterparts felt the same way.

While it was heartening to see girls becoming more confident, Madeline Di Nonno, the institute’s chief executive, said the discrepancy might also reflect that boys fear being teased or bullied if they play with toys associated with girls.

“Let the kids decide what they want to play, how they want to play with it and how they want to express themselves,” she said in an interview.

“Our job now is to encourage boys and girls who want to play with sets that may have traditionally been seen as ‘not for them,’ ” Julia Goldin, Lego’s chief product and marketing officer, told the Guardian newspaper.

The company said in an emailed statement that it would work to offer a more diverse array of characters and roles so that no child would “feel that they weren’t welcome or represented” in Lego products.

The campaign to make toys and other children’s products more gender-neutral has been around for several years. Advocates including Evan Low, a Democratic assemblyman who helped write the new California law, note that gender-based divisions of such products have contributed to “the proliferation of [science, technology, engineering and mathematics]-geared toys” for boys and “pursuits such as caring for a baby, fashion, and domestic life” for girls.

Some conservative organizations, however, pushed back on the California bill, arguing that a government-imposed view on gender constitutes a violation of free speech and reflects attempts to impose a gender-neutral ideology.

Click here to read the full article on Washington Post.

Fitness Trainer Karena Dawn Launches Mental Health Organization in Honor of Her Late Mother
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Fitness Trainer Karena Dawn smiling at the camera in a green silk button up shirt

By Stephanie Emma Pfeffer, People

Karena Dawn doesn’t shy away from hard conversations.

The co-founder of Tone It Up is launching a new charitable organization, The Big Silence, to normalize discussions about mental health issues.

“I’ve been wanting to create a foundation and a resource for many years,” says Dawn, who was just 12 years old when her mom was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and depression.

“[My mom] was in and out of the house many times, from being a missing person to being in the hospital,” Dawn tells PEOPLE exclusively. “And it was in the ’90s, so no one was talking about mental health.”

As a teenager, Dawn tried to research mental illness and schizophrenia at the library. “There were no resources out there for me to lean on,” she recalls. “It kind of sent me in a spiral of my own situational depression, drug abuse, suicide attempt and losing a lot of friends because no one around me was talking about it.”

That’s why she believes so strongly in offering support for those who are struggling. “There’s a stigma around mental health,” says the NYT bestselling author. “That is what The Big Silence is: It’s the thing you don’t want to talk about. At The Big Silence, we are here to break the silence.”

The content platform, which she leads with her sister Rachel Sahaidachny as executive director, is dedicated to normalizing conversations around mental health through online and social content, as well as a podcast hosted by Dawn.

“Because of my mom’s mental illness, I went through a really dark period — from about 12 years old until about 22,” she says. “I was at a breaking point.”

She found light again by focusing on fitness. “I was on a three-day bender and was thinking back about when I was my happiest,” she says. “It was when I was running, and I was active and I was working out.”

“At that time I thought, in my own depression, that I was going to end up like my mom, so I didn’t believe in myself.” But she decided to do something positive and signed up for a triathalon. “I trained my butt off and did the race,” she says. “I crossed the finish line, like ‘Wow, like I accomplished something.’ ”

From then on, she says, she wanted to teach people that movement is medicine, which led to her co-founding Tone It Up in 2009 and further dedicating herself to not only her physical health but her mental health as well, through self-help books, therapy and meditation.

Click here to read the full article on People.

Girl Scouts of the USA Names Former Warner Media Executive Sofia Chang as CEO
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Girl Scouts of the United States (GSUSA) today announced Sofia Chang as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

By Cision

Girl Scouts of the United States (GSUSA) today announced Sofia Chang as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Ms.Chang, who is a mother of a Girl Scout, Lifetime Member and a member of the Juliette Gordon Low (JGL) Society, will assume the role on January 27.

She will succeed Interim CEO, Board Member, and lifelong Girl Scout Judith Batty, who came out of retirement to lead the organization in August 2020.

Ms. Chang joins Girl Scouts after three decades of experience in the private sector. During her 20-year tenure at HBO/Warner Media, Ms. Chang led the successful transformation of several businesses, developed high-performing teams, and advocated for women and diversity. Her leadership and business achievements were built on her strategic vision, her authenticity, and her inclusiveness. Ms. Chang brings her legacy of leadership and advocacy to propel Girl Scouts, the largest leadership organization for girls in the world, into its next chapter by working to reach more girls who can create an outsized impact in their communities, and around the world.

Ms. Chang has long been committed to advocating for women and for diverse voices across her professional and personal affiliations. She has served on the board of the Time Warner Foundation, was the Executive Sponsor of HBO’s AAPI resource group and was a member of HBO’s diversity council. Ms. Chang continues to serve on the board of the University of Pennsylvania’s Professional Women’s Alliance which provides young alumni with professional development and networking opportunities.

Ms. Chang will also be the first AAPI CEO in the organization’s 110-year history.

Click here to read the full article on Cision.

5 Business Strategies You Need to Know Today
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business woman looking at silhoutte landscpae of big city

By Mark Quadros

Research shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected 76.2 percent of U.S. businesses. COVID-19 impacted most of these businesses negatively, disrupting everything from their supply chains to their in-store sales.

So, if you’re one of these business owners, how can you adjust your operation to thrive during lockdowns, stay open for customers and keep staff engaged?

Here are five COVID-19-involved business strategies to help small businesses survive the pandemic:

Redefine your business growth opportunities

The COVID-19 crisis and subsequent lockdown measures have disrupted many significant industries, including the hospitality industry, retail industry and entertainment industry. Naturally, companies in these fields have changed how they deliver their products and services to customers to continue growing.

But redefining your opportunities isn’t just limited to companies directly affected by lockdowns.

If you want to keep growing during the pandemic, you will need to seek out new ways to improve your profitability, including:

  • Entering new markets
  • Taking out a bridge loan and investing in new projects
  • Adjusting your marketing and sales approaches
  • Targeting new customers
  • Redesigning old processes with new online business tools
  • Forming new partnerships (especially with local suppliers)
  • Finding new ways to improve your offerings for customers

To identify the best opportunity for your brand, you must research potential options, identify the best ones and formalize them with a new business plan. According to this guide to business plans, your business plan should include detailed product and service plans, a market analysis, a management plan and a financial plan for each growth strategy.

Adapt your current business models

Experts predict that coronavirus will continue to spread around the world for the foreseeable future.

Naturally, if your brand wants to survive this new normal, you’ll need to crisis-proof your business so you can continue to operate in the current economic climate. To crisis-proof your business, you should:

  • Measure the damage to your company regularly so you can adapt to potential problems before they arise
  • Back up your data and embrace digital solutions to help staff work from home
  • Prioritize the health and safety of your employees with workplace safety measures like social distancing, hand sanitizer and masks
  • Reduce your cash flow to only essential expenses
  • Adjust how you deliver products and services to customers to ensure their safety when shopping
  • Re-organize your work processes to prioritize key functions (e.g., by redefining customer support)
  • Establish contingency plans for further lockdowns and pandemic restrictions

If you are self-employed or a small business owner, you could also take out a personal loan to keep your business’s cash flow steady as you adjust your business models.

Rethink your financial structure

A 2020 study on 5,800 small businesses from the U.S. found that the average brand with over $10,000 in expenses only had access to two weeks of cash at the start of the pandemic. Unsurprisingly, many of these companies had to adapt their spending habits to survive.

And the rest of us should learn from them.

To keep your brand alive during the pandemic, you will need to establish an emergency fund to cover any unexpected events (like lockdowns). You can build an emergency fund by saving the money you would have spent on unnecessary expenses.

To identify unnecessary expenses, sort your expenses into two key categories:

  • Value-adding expenses that are crucial to running the business (i.e., expenses like supplier costs, inventory acquisition costs, online advertising, staff wages and technology costs)
  • Extra expenses that are not crucial to running the business (i e., additional office space, extra professional training and food/drinks)

Once you have sorted your expenses, identify expenses you can eliminate to reduce your operating budget and make cuts according to your priorities.

Retrain your workforce

While it may seem wise to fire non-essential staff and redirect their salaries into your emergency fund, this decision may hurt your business financially long term. Currently, it costs $4,425 to hire the average employee and weeks to train and acclimate them. To avoid incurring this cost later, retrain your workforce and adjust their duties to match your new business model.

You should also consider ways to improve your employee’s productivity (the quantity of their work) and efficiency (the quality of their work). Improving productivity and efficiency will increase your business’s output, increasing your revenue and decreasing your expenses.

To improve efficiency, you can use a productivity formula and calculate your current figures:

Productivity = Total Output / Total Input

Efficiency = (Standard Hours Spent On Task / Actual Amount of Time Spent on Task) x 100

Then, brainstorm business-specific ways to improve productivity and efficiency.

Build meaningful relationships

Finally, you should prioritize maintaining good relationships with your customers. As research shows that the top 10 percent of customers spend three times more per transaction than the bottom 10 percent, maintaining a relationship with loyal customers will increase your revenue.

To maintain a connection with customers, you could:

  • Set up social media accounts and encourage customers to send you User-Generated Content (UGC)
  • Establish a customer loyalty program to keep customers happy
  • Improve your email marketing
  • Send digital ‘thank-you’ cards to customers
  • Offer special discounts to loyal customers
  • Improve your digital customer service practices
  • Convey your COVID-19 safety measures to customers with a poster

New normal, business

Periods of economic are very stressful for companies, but they frequently result in long-term growth and new industry-wide trends. For example, people often credit the fast rise of eCommerce to the 2003 SARS outbreak in China or the rise in click-and-collect to the early months of COVID-19.

If you follow the tips in this guide, your company can emerge from COVID-19 stronger and more profitable than ever before.

Source: Score

Formulating the Perfect STEM Resume for 2022
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Portrait of a young african woman holding resume document indoors

A fresh start is one of the gifts of a brand-new year, especially coming out of unprecedented times. If you’re looking to change up your career, here are some tips to help you revise your current resume and make the kind of impact you really hope for.

Polish visual elements

A resume that’s too visually distracting or disorganized can make an employer dispose of it without actually delving in. Use plenty of white space, and sharp, consistent formatting for each job. Use a limited number of fonts, preferably just one or two. Avoid using too many attention-getting methods such as all caps, bold and increased font sizes, or the reader struggles to know where to look. Make it neat and scannable by using clear headings.

Focus on Technical Skills

This is one of your strongest opportunities to introduce yourself; every organization, and even different jobs within one organization, may require you to make subtle tweaks to your resume to make it count. For STEM-related fields, it’s always best to showcase your skills for a specific position and the specific certifications that meet their needed criteria. Avoid listing expected skills required in any job and focus on special abilities that make you the best candidate for the job. It may also be helpful to list your expertise level (expert, proficient, etc.) to drive home your skillset.

Show Your Experience Across Disciplines

Though you want to be specific to the job, you will also want to showcase how your disciplines have crossed paths, especially in a time where scientific innovations and technological advances are increasing in overlap. Tell your reader about the experience you’ve had in your lines of work and school from outward appearance and design to the more behind-the-scenes work of sample collecting and data recording.

Add Results to Build Context

Do your jobs appear lacking in results? Maybe you didn’t track your statistics to — down the road — accurately report them on your resume. But numbers and impact are helpful to get a picture of what you’ve done. For example, a Conservation Corps worker described his experience as, “Coordinated group of 25 volunteers. As leader of 25-person team, removed invasive species growth over 50-acre wilderness, restored and maintained over 10 miles of trails. Developed new team protocols that led to improved communication and more efficient trail practices.” These numbers add more weight.

Revise Repeatedly, Even When You Can’t Stand It

The last thing you want is for your resume to be rejected over simple errors that could have easily been fixed. Go over your resume, use spellcheck, have a friend or trusted individual read through it, and ask for feedback from qualified individuals willing to help.

With these tips in mind, your resume will not only be ready to take on job opportunities, but your confidence will only increase. 2022 is a fresh start from the past two years; go make it count!

Source: CareerOneStop, KForce

A Maine city that’s 90% White now has a Somali mayor
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Somali Mayor, Deqa Dhalac, poses for a portrait at her home in South Portland in 2018. Of becoming the city's mayor this week, she said, "I'm...really proud of the fact that I'm going to be opening a lot of paths for other folks who look like me."

By Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN

Deqa Dhalac saw it in their faces when she started campaigning. Some people, she says, seemed scared to open their doors when she knocked. Others saw her hijab and assumed she didn’t speak English. But Dhalac kept knocking and telling her story. And she says a lot has changed since those days back in 2018, when she first ran for City Council in South Portland, Maine — and won. On Monday she became the first Black mayor of the small city on the state’s Southern Coast. And she’s believed to be the first Somali American mayor in the United States. South Portland’s other city councilors, who are all White, elected her in a unanimous vote, heaping praise on Dhalac for her dedication to the community and thoughtful consideration of issues.

Dhalac, 53, says her election shows what can be accomplished when people find ways to connect with each other instead of putting up walls.

“People will always have some kind of reservation…but will get to know you, listen to you and see who you are through that,” she says. Given that Maine is the whitest state in the country, and that South Portland is 90% White, Dhalac knows her election sounds surprising to some. But she says that it shouldn’t be. And that’s one reason she ran for office in the first place. She hopes her election as mayor will inspire others to follow in her footsteps.

“I’m…really proud of the fact that I’m going to be opening a lot of paths for other folks who look like me, especially our young community members, to say, ‘If this woman can do this, actually I can do that,'” Dhalac told the City Council last month after her nomination. “And also not only for immigrant, first-generation or Black people, but also young, White individuals who may have been afraid or don’t want to be a part of the civic duties that we all have. … I say, ‘Yes, if I can do this, yes, you can do it. We really, really need you, each and every one of you in this beautiful city of ours, to step up.'”

Her election marks multiple milestones
Dhalac’s inauguration is a milestone for Somali immigrant communities that have grown in size and become more established in states like Maine, Minnesota, Ohio and Washington. As that’s happened, more Somali Americans are taking on roles on local school boards and city councils — and also serving as lawmakers, like Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota.

Dhalac is the first Somali American mayor in the United States, according to New American Leaders, an organization that trains and encourages immigrants to run for office. But the organization says they hope she won’t be the last.

“Her leadership will certainly make a big difference not only in South Portland, but around the country,” said Ghida Dagher, the organization’s president. “She’s going to serve an example for Somali Americans across the country to step up and step into their own leadership journey. … It’s about owning their own power and potential in our democracy.” Dhalac’s election is also a historic first for South Portland, which has never had a Black mayor before, says Seth Goldstein, vice president of the South Portland Historical Society. Goldstein, who teaches history and leads historical tours in the area, says he’s happy to watch this new chapter in his city’s history unfold. “It’s very exciting, I think that it is reflective of the way that the community here is gradually changing,” Goldstein says. About 6,000 Somalis live in Maine, Goldstein said, thanks to a wave of migration that began in the early 2000s.

Their arrival hasn’t always been met with open arms. In 2002, the mayor of Lewiston, Maine, drew national media attention when he wrote an open letter telling Somali immigrants not to come to his city.

But Dhalac says the people she’s met in Maine have been welcoming, and in recent years she’s seen more Somalis and other immigrants taking on leadership positions in the state. In the past, she says, immigrants were more hesitant to run because they were focused on making ends meet and supporting their families.

“I think we were always kind of afraid to get involved. … We were waiting on somebody (else) to do something,” she said.
In 2018, Dhalac got tired of waiting.

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

Women’s education narrowing gender pay gap, but shift in childcare needed
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college student celebrating

By Ashleigh Webber, Personnel Today

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found that since the mid-1990s women of working age have gone from being 5 percentage points less likely, to 5 percentage points more likely to have a university degree than men.

The 40% earnings gap identified its report is around 13 percentage points, or 25%, lower than it was in the mid-1990s.

However, women are still less likely to be in paid work than men (83.5% of women and 93% of men), and work fewer hours per week than men if they are employed (34 hours a week on average, compared with 42).

Women in paid work earn 19% less per hour on average than men (£13.20 compared with £16.30).In 1995 this figure was 24% and in 2005 it was 20.5%.

The research was based on data from 2019.

Monica Costa-Dias, deputy research director at IFS, said: “Huge gender gaps remain across employment, working hours and wages. After accounting for the rapid improvement in women’s education, there has been almost no progress on gender gaps in paid work over the past quarter-century.

“Working-age women in the UK are now more educated than their male counterparts and it seems unlikely that we can rely on women becoming more and more educated to close the existing gaps.”

The Women and men at work report, part of the IFS Deaton Review of Inequalities, also finds that:

  • The hourly wage gap between men and women is now bigger for those with degrees or A-level-equivalent qualifications than for those with lower qualifications. In fact, the minimum wage has helped reduce pay inequality in lower-paid roles
  • Of working-age adults with GCSEs or less, 26.5% of women do not work for pay compared with 9.5% of men
  • Working-age women do more than 50 hours a month more unpaid work (including both childcare and housework) than men
  • Gaps in employment and hours increase substantially upon becoming a parent, with women switching to more “family friendly” but lower paying occupations, or part time work
  • Women have more career breaks and spend more years working part-time, which contributes to them having lower hourly earnings further down the line.

“However, the gender gap in total earnings in the UK is almost twice as large as in some other countries which suggests the gender earnings gap is heavily influenced by the policy environment and cultural and social norms. For example, women are likely to take on more childcare even when they are the highest earner in the household, and a number of other countries also have more generous parental leave policies than the UK.”

Mark Franks, director of welfare at the Nuffield Foundation, which funded the research, said: “Differences in labour market participation, hours worked and hourly pay act together to lead to large and persistent inequalities in labour market outcomes between men and women in the UK. Some of these differences will originate from choices made by individuals and families relating to career and childcare decisions.

“However, the gender gap in total earnings in the UK is almost twice as large as in some other countries which suggests the gender earnings gap is heavily influenced by the policy environment and cultural and social norms. For example, women are likely to take on more childcare even when they are the highest earner in the household, and a number of other countries also have more generous parental leave policies than the UK.”

Click here to read the full article on Personnel Today.

Afro-Latinx Artist Reyna Noriega Is Using Art to Uplift Brown and Black Women
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Afro-Latinx Artist Reyna Noriega

By Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Pop Sugar

In 2017, Afro-Latinx visual artist Reyna Noriega began her career as a full-time creator. Little did she know that in just a few short years, she would have over 100,000 followers on Instagram, would be working with huge brands like Apple and Old Navy, and would design a cover for The New Yorker. Born and raised in Miami to a first-generation Cuban father and a Bahamian mother, Noriega, who is best-known for her bold, vibrant, graphic work, was destined to be an artist.

“My father is also an artist, and I became interested early on in just the magic of it all, being able to bring ideas to life on paper and communicate in a universal language,” Noriega told POPSUGAR in a recent interview. “I was always the ‘sensitive kid’ feeling a lot and thinking a lot, so art and writing were great outlets for me to get all of that under control and to be able to process my emotions.”

Now, Noriega’s art is being seen on a much wider scale and impacting thousands of people who follow her on social media or see her art on city walls and T-shirts. To get there, she had to put in a lot of work, including studying and learning on her own, despite the fact that she took art classes throughout high school and minored in art in college. Using the help of books and YouTube, Noriega honed her skills and eventually left her job as a teacher, with the full support of her parents.

“I was very fortunate that my family believed in me and my ability to make my passion a career and even help me make it happen! To this day, my mom is the person that helps me run my online shop, and they encourage me to strive higher,” Noriega told us.

By 2019, Noriega started doing brand work, after getting comfortable with her style and what she wanted to represent as an artist. It gradually became easier for her to align herself with brands that had the same mission. She is currently working on Amex’s “Always Welcome” design collective launch, which will provide businesses with signage for their storefronts and indicate their stance on inclusivity.

“Honestly, every time I get an email, I am honored and humbled that my name enters rooms I never thought would. From companies whose products I used to save up for at one point, like Apple, to legendary publications like The New Yorker, or having thousands and thousands of people wear a shirt I designed with Old Navy. It really is a dream come true,” she said.

Ultimately, it was Noriega embracing her culture and her commitment to advocating for Black and brown people through her art that got her there. She says her Afro-Caribbean culture is what brings “vibrancy and flavor” to her art. But we think it’s so much more than that. With just a single glance, it’s obvious that Noriega’s background informs her work. Her use of color, the way she showcases the female form, the various complexions and skin tones she celebrates in her work, and the stunning, tropics-inspired botanical scenes she often creates speak to exactly who she is and where she comes from.

“Art has always been a place I look to boost my mood, museums, galleries, [and] learning about art history. But unfortunately in those spaces, rarely did I ever feel I belong, because my story wasn’t told on those walls, and in the rare occasion it was, it only highlighted the struggles and traumas,” she said. “I wanted to create work that would lift moods and raise the self-efficacy of Black and brown women with positive representation and vibrant depictions of joy.”

Noriega describes the art she creates with a tremendous amount of care and respect. Her mission is to create art that represents and uplifts communities that are often left out of the conversation. “I focus on women because as a woman, I know all of the challenges and barriers we face,” she said. “Inequalities in pay, harmful messaging on body image, the ongoing fight for body autonomy . . . it can be really exhausting. Add on to that the challenges being a BIPOC, and it just magnifies. My art is meant to celebrate women, inspire joy, and a reclamation of peace and rest.”

Noriega recognizes how important it is to not only amplify voices like hers but also to use her gifts and resources to speak up for people who don’t have the same advantages that she does. Even as a Black Latina, she’s cognizant of the privileges she has and the responsibility associated with them. “For me personally, I often look at my identities as a privilege, which pushes me to amplify Black voices even more. I am all too aware of the advantages I have received being a Latina in Miami, and even being ethnically Caribbean, although my race is Black,” she said. “Being able to say where your lineage comes from is a privilege many Black Americans don’t have. I have been unfairly judged and treated and had some very hurtful comments said to me, but I must also be aware of how my skin tone provides privileges, how my heritage provides privileges, and how knowing more than one language is a privilege.” And in recognizing that, she’s able to leverage her position to empower others in really visible ways.

Click here to read the full article on Pop Sugar.

How to File for a Small Business Patent
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woman's hand holding the word patent is written on a large design

By Deborah Sweeney

What Is a Patent?

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) defines a patent for an invention as “the grant of a property right to the inventor.”

A patent helps protect the mechanisms, principles and components of an invention. The term for a small business patent starts on the date its application is filed with the USPTO. Generally, this lasts for 20 years. Patents tend to be filed less frequently than trademarks and copyrights within small businesses. However, this is still a necessary form of intellectual property protection for inventions. 
 
How to determine an invention is patentable

How do you determine that your invention is patentable? A patentable invention is defined accordingly by the USPTO: “Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefore, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.”

The USPTO further breaks down the four requirements of a patentable invention.

  • “A” patent: This is singular. Only one patent may be granted for each invention.
  • Useful: The invention must have a specific, substantial and credible utility.
  • Process, machine, manufacture, composition of matter: This is a description of the subject matter, and categories, eligible for patenting.
  • Whoever invents or discovers: The inventor is the only person who may obtain the patent.

Three types of small business patents

Once you determine your invention is patentable, you must figure out what kind of patent you need before filing for a small business patent. It’s important to understand which patent type is the right fit for your invention. Presently, there are three types of patents:

  • Utility patents
  • Design patents
  • Plant patents

Let’s explore how each patent protects a specific type of invention. Once you understand which patent is the closest categorization for your invention, we’ll look at how to apply for a patent.

Utility patents

Utility patents are among the most commonly filed small business patents with the USPTO. This type of patent may be a useful process, machine, article of manufacture, composition of matter or new or useful improvement. These are four categories of statutory subject matter and may be defined accordingly.

  • Process: This is an act, or series of acts or steps, typically from an industrial or technical process.
  • Machine: The USPTO defines machine as “a concrete thing, consisting of parts, or of certain devices and combination of devices.” Essentially, this is the literal meaning of inventing a machine.
  • Manufacture: These are articles made by the invention. They may be produced from raw or prepared materials and through either hand labor or by machinery.
  • Composition of matter: This is the chemical makeup of the invention. It may be composed of two or more substances and all composite articles. This may be gases, fluids, powders or solids.

A fifth category may also apply to the word “useful.” The invention must be able to operate and have a useful purpose. For example, a new search engine is a type of software that may qualify as a utility patent.

A utility patent also has the option to file as a provisional or nonprovisional application.

What’s the difference between the two terms? Provisional applications are a low-cost patent filing. Applicants may establish a filing date in the United States for their invention. Then, they may file a nonprovisional application to claim the invention later. Nonprovisional applications are reviewed by a patent examiner. If the invention is considered patentable, the utility patent application is filed with the USPTO.

Design patents

A design patent is granted to anyone who invents a new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.

How does this small business patent differ from a utility patent? A utility patent will protect the use of an article. Design patents protect the appearance of an article, but not its structural or functional features. Famous design patents include the Statue of Liberty and the original curvy Coca-Cola bottle. A recent example of a design patent are emojis, protecting the look and appearance of the digital icons.

The terms for a design patent, as effective May 13, 2015, may last 15 years from the date of the patent grant. Prior to 2015, the term was 14 years. This provides small businesses with over a decade’s worth of patent protection.

Plant patents

One of the most unique small business patents is the plant patent. This patent may be granted to anyone that has invented, discovered or asexually reproduced a distinct, new variety of plant. Here are a few examples:

  • Cultivated sports
  • Mutants (this is only applicable if the mutant is discovered in a cultivated area)
  • Cultivated hybrids
  • Newly found seedlings
  • Algae and macro-fungi
  • Asexually propagated plants reproduced through means other than seeds, such as layering or budding.

Plants that would not be eligible for a plant patent include existing plants, such as roses, bacteria, and edible tuber reproduced plants like potatoes.

A plant patent’s terms are for 20 years from the date of the patent’s application filing. Similar to that of a utility patent, a plant patent may file a provisional or nonprovisional application. The inventor filing this application must be the same person that invented, or reproduced, the plant they wish to patent.

Applying for a patent

By now, you likely have a good idea as to which small business patent is best for your invention. The next step is to get ready to apply for a patent.

As you prepare to apply for a patent, keep in mind the following.

  1. What is your application strategy? You may choose to file as yourself (Pro Se) or work with a patent attorney or agent.
  2. Will you file a provisional or nonprovisional application? This may be contingent on the type of small business patent you are filing.
  3. Do you have enough money set aside for fees? There are several fees associated with filing a patent, including application fees, search fees, examination fees and issues fees.
  4. How soon do you need the patent? You may consider expedited examination options to file for and receive patent approval sooner.
  5. Do I have everything I need for my application? Your patent application materials may require an oath or declaration, drawings and additional written documents. Make sure you understand each required part necessary for obtaining your patent and include it with your application.
  6. Will I mail my application or submit it online? Double-check everything prior to making this last step to ensure your application is complete. Remember that once your application has been filed with the USPTO, you will not be able to add new items to it.

Patent approval and next steps

If your patent is approved, congratulations! You will receive notice of approval and a patent grant that is mailed to you.

After receiving your small business patent, make sure to maintain the patent over the years. Pay any maintenance fees on time to ensure it does not expire and check the status as needed for this valuable piece of intellectual property.

Source: Score.org

 

Christina Applegate Marks 50th Birthday After MS Diagnosis: ‘May We Find That Strength’
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Headshot of Christina Applegate smiling at the camera

By Glenn Garner, People

Christina Applegate is kicking off a new chapter after revealing her multiple sclerosis diagnosis earlier this year.

The Emmy Award winner celebrated her 50th birthday Thursday, which was also Thanksgiving, with an encouraging message for her 1.4 million Twitter followers. “Yup. I turned 50 today. And I have MS. It’s been a hard one,” she wrote.

“Sending so much love to all of you this day,” Applegate continued. “Many are hurting today, and I am thinking of you. May we find that strength to lift our heads up. Mine currently is on my pillow. But I try.”

She previously talked about her experience with MS on Twitter in August, a few months after she was diagnosed. “It’s been a strange journey. But I have been so supported by people that I know who also have this condition,” Applegate wrote at the time. “It’s been a tough road. But as we all know, the road keeps going. Unless some asshole blocks it.”

Applegate has since been met with love from friends and fans alike. Selma Blair, with whom she starred alongside Cameron Diaz in the 2002 romantic comedy The Sweetest Thing, offered her support in the replies.

“Loving you always. Always here. As are our kids. Beating us up with love,” Blair, 49, wrote, to which Applegate responded: “Love you sister. Our kids are so weird.”

Blair has also been open about her own MS diagnosis, which she revealed in 2018. Most recently, she detailed her journey with the disease in the discovery+ documentary Introducing, Selma Blair, which Applegate recommended on Twitter.

Applegate’s Dead to Me costar James Marsden has praised her strength as well, telling Entertainment Tonight that it’s “really, really inspiring to see.”

Click here to read the full article on People.

Jessica Watkins will be the first Black woman to live and work on the space station
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NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins waves at the audience during the astronaut graduation ceremony at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, in January 2020. In April 2022, she will become the first Black woman to live and work on the International Space Station.

By NPR

For the first time, a Black woman will live and work on the International Space Station, starting in April of next year. Jessica Watkins, who was born in Maryland but now considers Colorado home, is slated to spend six months on the ISS as a mission specialist. It will be her first mission in space. The crew for this mission — known as Crew-4 — will be the fourth rotation of astronauts on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft to the ISS.

Watkins joined the ranks of NASA astronauts in 2017 and has worked in the space agency’s research centers, particularly on the Mars rover, Curiosity.

Watkins says she grew up admiring astronauts like Mae Jemison, the first Black woman in space, and Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. And she hopes her work aboard the ISS will inspire more kids of color to aspire to space travel.

“I do hope that all young girls, especially young girls of color that are interested in STEM and interested in exploring space, feel empowered to do so,” Watkins told Colorado Public Radio last year. “I just hope young girls across the country feel that way now.”

Click here to read the full article on Make It.

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. NAWBO Leadership Academy – Winter 2022
    January 31, 2022
  3. NAWBO LEADERSHIP ACADEMY 2022
    January 31, 2022
  4. From Day One
    February 9, 2022
  5. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022