4 Steps To Filing For Patents That PhDs Need To Know When Applying For Jobs

My first phone interview with an industry recruiter was a disaster.

I wasn’t prepared.

I didn’t know what to expect and had no idea how to build a relationship with a recruiter.

I didn’t know enough about the company, or business in general.

But, the job opening was at a company that I had always dreamed of working at, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

The conversation began smoothly, but soon the talk became very technical in a way that I was not prepared for.

Liability, opportunity cost, value proposition, monetization… there were so many new words being thrown around, I just couldn’t keep up.

Was I supposed to know what he was talking about?

I muddled through, trying to guess how to respond, but needless to say, I did not get a second interview.

By not understanding these common business terms, I made myself look like a fool.

The skills I gained during my PhD were not going to get me a job in industry.

I needed to develop my transferable skills and learn about the current industry trends in the field I was interested in.

I needed to go into every interview better prepared.

So, I began researching topics that are important to businesses.

I began to improve my business acumen.

I educated myself in business development, general economics, mergers and acquisitions, corporate structure, and many other areas.

One topic that I found to be very useful as I developed my job search strategy, was understanding the patent process.

With a basic understanding of patents, I demonstrated that I knew how valuable the innovation happening at a company was, because I knew how this innovation was protected.

Why PhDs Must Understand How Companies File Patents

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, there were 218,000 patent applications in 2015.

The immense cost of research and development makes protecting an invention with a patent very important in industry.

All companies, in all fields, are interested in protecting the inventions they develop.

Because once an invention is made public, its findings can be easily replicated by competitors, thus reducing the profit made by the original inventors.

Understanding the patent process becomes even more important for PhDs transitioning into the biotechnology or pharmaceutical industries.

As reported by Scientific American, the average cost to bring a new prescription drug to market is $2.6 billion.

That means each patent a pharmaceutical or biotechnology company files is potentially protecting a $2.6 billion investment.

It is of the utmost importance to industry that the inventions they create are protected.

In academia, you are worried about your research getting scooped, but the stakes are much higher in industry.

Demonstrate to a potential employer that, as a PhD job candidate with a solid knowledge of the patenting process, you truly understand the value of the company’s research.

The 4 Steps Of Filing A Patent In Industry

It is essential for companies in all industries to consistently develop new and unique products.

But once they have developed a product worth placing on the market, protection of the invention becomes a top priority.

Protecting a product with a patent ensures that competing companies cannot claim an idea or product as their own.

As an academic PhD, you understand the value of intellectual property, but the steps taken to protect this valuable information are more involved in industry.

Companies file patents to protect all areas of development.

By gaining an understanding of how and why companies file patents, you can demonstrate to a potential employer that you are a business savvy PhD.

The reality of securing a patent is involved and time consuming, but the general patenting process can be broken down into four steps…

1. Write the patent application.

Like any legal document, a patent has very specific sections and requirements that must be fulfilled.

The wording of the patent is essential to make sure that all areas of the invention are covered under the patent.

A basic patent consists of six parts: title, introduction, brief description, detailed description, claim, and declaration.

The title should identify the invention and the field that the invention pertains to.

The introduction should describe the field of the invention in more detail, provide an overview of the current state of knowledge in the field, and state the problem the invention intends to solve.

The brief description, or summary, should provide an overview of what the invention will accomplish and how this invention solves the problem outlined in the introduction.

The detailed description should cover all the relevant aspects of the invention and how the invention might be used.

The description requirements are different for different fields.

For example, for pharmaceutical inventions, special attention should be paid to describing the chemical structure of an invention, while for biologics, a description or drawing may not be sufficient and a physical sample should be placed into the appropriate depository.

The claim is the most important section of a patent application because it defines the scope of a patent’s protection.

The claim section is usually written in broad terms so that every aspect of the new invention is covered.

It is essential that the claim section is written well, because this section of the patent allows a patent owner to hold offending parties responsible for infringement.

Anyone who exploits an invention or the parts of an invention, as described in the claims section, is infringing on the rights of that patent and can be persecuted by the law.

The final part of an application is the declaration, or oath, which states that the applicant is the original inventor and the information provided in the patent application is true and correct.

2. File a patent application.

Once the patent application has been written, it needs to be filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The patent can be filed with the USPTO by mail or online.

However, according to U.S. law only the actual inventor, who is a natural person, can file a patent.

This means that a patent, and the invention it pertains to, must be attributed to a person.

A company can file a patent on an inventor’s behalf, provided that the inventor has assigned their patent rights to said company.

Your patent rights will usually be signed over to a company in your employment contract.

Additionally, if two or more companies are involved in a collaboration during the development of an invention, inventorship issues should be resolved prior to filing a patent.

3. Examination of the patent application.

After a patent application is submitted, the U.S. government will examine the patent to evaluate the novelty of the invention.

For a patent to be granted, an invention has to be new, or in patent terms, it should not form part of any ‘prior art.’

Prior art refers to any disclosure (written, oral, etc.) of the features of the invention as described in the claim section of the patent application that was published before the filing date of the application.

U.S. law allows a one-year grace period before the filing of a patent application, during which inventors can publish their invention without it being considered prior art.

The patent examiner will also evaluate whether the invention involves an ‘inventive step’.

To contain an inventive step, how an invention was created should not be obvious to a person with an ordinary level of skill in the field to which the invention belongs.

The inventive step is of particular importance in the field of pharmaceutical inventions.

Pharmaceutical companies often file secondary patents to protect any new developments they may make to the original invention in the main patent, such as, how they might chemically modify a drug.

Without these secondary patents, competing companies could potentially file their own patent and prevent the original company from adding any new features to their product.

The patent examination process is very long.

There is a backlog of patent applications and it is not uncommon for a patent to take more than two years to be approved.

However, once a patent has been approved it is valid for 20 years after the initial filing date.

4. Publish the patent application.

After a patent application has been filed, but mostly likely before it has been approved, it will be published publicly.

This publication process usually takes place 18 months after filing a patent application and its purpose is to inform the public that a particular invention has entered the patent protection process.

When the patent application is made public, other parties who may already be using the invention can take preventive measures so that they are not infringing on the patent.

Public patents are available in the Public Pair section of the USPTO website.

Before the publication of a patent, all of its contents are confidential.

If you’re ready to start your transition into industry, you can apply to book a free Transition Call with our founder Isaiah Hankel, PhD or one of our Transition Specialists. Apply to book a Transition Call here.

Book a Transition Call
Get Free Job Search Content Weekly
Aditya Sharma, PhD
Aditya Sharma, PhD

Aditya Sharma, PhD, earned his advanced degree at the University of Toronto, Canada. Now, he combines his passion for all things STEM with keen business acumen, and he works as a scientific consultant at a top Canadian consulting firm.

Similar Articles

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies Jan 22, 2022

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies Jan 22, 2022

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

What Is A 30-60-90 Day Plan And How To Amaze Interviewers By Presenting One

What Is A 30-60-90 Day Plan And How To Amaze Interviewers By Presenting One

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

I hear stories about 30-60-90 day plans from PhDs interviewing for industry positions everyday. These stories have all sorts of outcomes. PhDs moving to the next stage of the interview process. Or getting the job of their dreams. Or being cut in the first interview rounds. There is one outcome, however, that always bothers me, and that is when a PhD makes it all the way to the final video interview or the site visit and doesn’t get a job offer. It’s devastating when a PhD goes through all the effort to prepare for each interview round just to get…

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies Jan 15, 2022

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies Jan 15, 2022

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

The 3 Components Of A Professional Job Search Profile

The 3 Components Of A Professional Job Search Profile

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

The components of your professional job search profile are important. If you want to transition into industry, you need to talk the language of industry and show that to potential referrals and employers. You probably already heard me say this, but do you know what it actually means? It means you need to know how you are portraying yourself from the very first moment you start planning your transition. Even before you start applying for jobs. If you are looking to transition into industry, but are applying to positions using an academic CV instead of an industry resume, you are…

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies, Jan 8th, 2022

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies, Jan 8th, 2022

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies, Jan 1st, 2022

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies, Jan 1st, 2022

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

How To Shorten The Hiring Funnel And Get Hired Faster

How To Shorten The Hiring Funnel And Get Hired Faster

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Finding a PhD-level industry job through the hiring funnel is hard.  After all, you are aiming for one of the 0.5% top available positions. Employers don’t just hand those positions out. At the same time, it’s likely that you are not getting hired because you are incorrectly aligning your efforts with what the hiring process looks like from the employer’s perspective. Do you have a strategy for getting hired or are you just winging it? If you are thinking that you will only have to apply to a couple of industry positions before getting an offer or that hiring managers…

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies, December 25th, 2021

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies, December 25th, 2021

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

5 Job Search Time Wasters That PhDs Should Stop Doing Immediately

5 Job Search Time Wasters That PhDs Should Stop Doing Immediately

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Feeling discouraged with your job search strategy? Have you uploaded hundreds of resumes without hearing back from employers? Are you starting to think you are not cut out for an industry position? This happens to many PhDs at some point in their transition journey.  They don’t know how to execute a correct job search strategy. So they waste lots of time doing things that don’t yield any result. Then get discouraged. An industry job search is maddening. As PhDs we are never trained rigorously on how to do it in academia. Most PhDs are never trained on how to execute…

Top Industry Career eBooks

Complete LinkedIn Guide For PhDs

Complete LinkedIn Guide For PhDs

Isaiah Hankel

The LinkedIn tips & strategies within have helped PhDs from every background get hired into top industry careers.

20 Most Popular Industry Career Tracks For PhDs

20 Most Popular Industry Career Tracks For PhDs

Isaiah Hankel, PhD & Arunodoy Sur, PhD

Learn about the top 20 industry careers for PhDs (regardless of your academic background). In this eBook, you will gain insight into the most popular, highest-paying jobs for PhDs – all of which will allow you to do meaningful work AND get paid well for it.

Industry Resume Guide for PhDs

Industry Resume Guide for PhDs

Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Learn how to craft the perfect industry resume to attract employers. In this eBook for PhDs, you will get access to proven resume templates, learn how to structure your bullet points, and discover which keywords industry employers want to see most on PhD resumes.