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I’m an undergraduate student in Boston, MA and I interned for 6 months at a start-up biotechnology company.

I made some gene pathway suggestions that, a year later, they’re still working on some.

The company’s patent lawyer sat down with me and said they filed patent applications, and that my name was going to be on ~4 of them. She asked me about who else contributed to the projects, and she took my legal name and my permanent address.

I heard in passing that they were applications she submitted in January.

What does that mean for me? What does the patent process look like? As a biologist (in training) I’m really in the dark about how this all works.

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As someone who has obtained patent while working for a company I think I can answer your questions. The standard work arrangement is that your work product is owned by the company. Thus any inventions the come about as a consequence of your employment is owned by the company. Some companies reward inventors with some compensation when patents are granted, but it really depends on the company.

In any case, the company is doing the right thing in identifying you as an inventor. It is possible the company will ask you discuss the invention with a patent lawyer and to review the patent drafts before they are filed, but if there are other inventors still at the company they might not. The patenting process can easily take 3 or more years. In any case, with luck in a few years you may have one or more patents with your name listed as an inventor. In my case, I proudly put patents on my resume and LinkedIn page. In the mean time you can list application numbers once they publish (18 months after filing). I think it looks good to potential employers especially since you were able to make a patent worthy contribution in only a six month internship.

  • Thank you! Should I ask the IP lawyer for the application numbers? Or can I find those online somewhere? – CalendarJ Apr 6 '18 at 1:22
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    You can always search using your name, but asking for an application number is a reasonable request. It takes time after the application is filed (like 18 months) for applications to publish. Before then it probably wouldn’t show up in a search. – Eric Shain Apr 6 '18 at 1:43
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    @CalendarJ though before they are published you might not be allowed to talk about the content so listing them in your resume might be futile. – DonQuiKong Apr 6 '18 at 10:08
  • @DonQuiKong Excellent comment. I tried to clarify this in my answer. – Eric Shain Apr 6 '18 at 14:04

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