Insights into the Patent Process

At our latest event, we had the pleasure of learning about the process of patenting, discovery commercialization, and making industry partnerships with Dr. Stephen Scribner, Dr. Mike Wells and Dr. David Hyndman from the Office of Partnerships and Innovation, Queen’s University. Our event included tips and tricks on how to patent our work, career paths in patent processing and commercialization, as well as an open-ended Q&A session and dinner catered by Rustic Spud. Here are some of the highlights for understanding the patent process:

As a patent agent, Dr. Stephen Scribner spends much of his time working on new case files, or patent applications, from various inventors. Patenting your work can be a long, challenge mission. Before your work reaches Dr. Scribner it’s important to consider whether or not your work is patentable? When a patent agent gets a new application, the first thing they consider is if it falls under the laws of nature (a mechanism), ideas, algorithms and equations. Furthermore, if the subject matter is considered “obvious” in the field, then it is considered non-patentable. PARTEQ Innovations is a non-for-profit organization at Queen’s University that provides a means for Queen’s inventors (or researchers) to patent their work by marketing the invention to pursue commercial development. An important tip to consider is being careful when discussing your new discovery with others. For instance, if you are at a conference discussing a novel finding that small molecule X is important for the pathology of disease Y, do not show the chemical structure. If you have disclosed your work before beginning the patent process know that you have a ‘grace period’ (one year in North America) to submit a patent application. If the work is patentable, congratulations! Before submitting your manuscript, book an appointment with a patent agent from PARTEQ and remember to bring your abstract along with you.

Are you considering becoming a patent agent? There are a few key steps to take before applying to a position: first, obtain an internship or apprenticeship working in the area of patent law and practice. Then, it’s time to prepare for the Patent Agent Exam. You can find more information and links to tutorials here. Lastly, register and write the Patent Agent exam from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. Some key skills to become a patent agent are:

  • Excellent writing skills

  • Being able to understand different kinds of technologies

  • Communicating your opinions clearly

“Being a patent agent is very satisfying work. You get to work with the inventor, passing the patent application back and forth to ensure that they’re creating a great application for prosecution, and sometimes you even get to go to the lab to see firs-hand what they’re doing. Then, there’s lots of arguing and hard work, but when you finally get the application through and everyone’s happy, it’s a great feeling of success and accomplishment.” – Dr. Stephen Scribner

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