Q: How can I get a patent?
A: Individuals and companies obtain patents to protect new inventions. A patent allows the holder to control the use of the technology for a set period of time. After the patent expires, anyone is free to copy and use the same technology without paying the original patent holder. Patents are used to reward the inventor for inventing something new and useful. The patent holder can exclusively manufacture and sell the patented product or the patent holder can license the technology to another company in exchange for
payment. Individuals with little interest in creating a factory and sales company will often try to find a licensee for their patented technology.
If you have created a new invention, you can patent it, but beware. Patents are expensive for two reasons. First, it costs money to obtain a patent. Most people pay thousands and thousands of dollars to legal firms to navigate patent law and appropriately format their patents for submission. Some people can avoid legal firms, but they have to research patent law and carefully understand the government regulations for patent filing. For those who try to file a patent themselves, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office collects fees that can range from the hundreds to over a thousand dollars. The fees can be investigated at http://www.uspto.gov. Once your patent is awarded, you now have to maintain and defend it. This is where the real expense of a patent comes into play. Although you may control the patent of a key technology, if another company infringes your patent, you may have to pay incredible sums to defend it in court. The upside is that if you win, then you will see a huge payday. If you do not win or if you run out of money, the loss could ruin your financial life.
To read more about patents, check out the resources at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, http://www.uspto.gov. Alternatively, http://www.wikipedia.org has a lot of information about patents.
Q: What should I put on my resume?
A: As a recruiter in science and engineering, my advice is put three things on your resume.
Relevant information. By relevant, I mean that you should list education and jobs where you learned skills that will make you an attractive employee. If the job seems out of context, be sure to highlight the relevant experiences and skills you learned on the job. A chemical engineer who served as an assistant manager at a restaurant might not think to include the experience on his resume. She should because she probably learned basic business accounting and how to lead teams while on the job. These are critical skills for almost any position.
Eligibility for clearance. If you are looking for a federal or government contractor job that may require a security clearance, you will help your chances by listing any security clearances you have held in the past. If you have not held one, state whether or not you are eligible.
Your personal philosophy. I’ve got a list of things I look for in potential candidates. Most recruiters do. While I will tell students what they should be studying in hopes that they naturally build themselves into the perfect employee, I don’t tell resume writers how to write a resume that artificially builds a nice, but false, picture. What you write must be true to you. Your resume should communicate what you can do to make your potential employer successful. If your potential employer doesn’t think what you can do will help them, the job is a bad fit. Keep looking. When you meet with an employer that resonates with your abilities, you have a good match. Remember that you are a customer, too. No job is worth sacrificing your own values, so don’t take one that will.