Wayne DeMello, Senior Corporate Counsel, Intellectual Property (IP) with the legal department at Tandem Diabetes Care, is always on the lookout for new and innovative ideas. He currently manages the Tandem Inventor Recognition Program, which provides an opportunity for every employee within the company to submit novel ideas for patenting.
“A patent describes an innovation — it’s something new that hasn’t been done before,” Wayne said. “At Tandem, when you’re thinking about improvements to products, you’re not just thinking about solving an interesting technical puzzle. If you can create a solution to a problem, it could potentially have a very direct benefit on people’s lives.”
Patents, trademarks, and copyrights are the foundation of most intellectual property work. Creating new patents gives companies the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling products containing their inventions.
Everyone Can Innovate
Every employee at Tandem has an opportunity to submit new ideas for patenting.
“It doesn’t matter what organization you’re in across the company,” Wayne said. “The process usually starts by a team member identifying what the problem is and articulating it, then identifying the potential solutions to that problem.”
Employees can submit new ideas for patenting to the legal department, after which a patent committee meeting is called. The committee consists of a group of executives and senior technical leaders who review invention disclosures.
“In general, a patentable invention has to be novel — meaning that it’s never been done before,” Wayne added. “It can’t be known anywhere in the world. It also must be ‘non-obvious,’ which means it can’t just be an obvious improvement even if it is novel.”
An Inventor’s Award
If Tandem chooses to move forward with an invention, the company drafts the patent application that is then filed at United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). If approved, the inventor’s name will appear on the patent as an ‘inventor’ and the company will appear on the patent as the ‘assignee.’
Regardless of who owns the patent, anyone who conceived of the invention must be listed as an inventor on the patent. After the patent is approved by the USPTO, Tandem hosts an awards meeting, usually at the end of the year, to celebrate the contributors and announce the milestones to the company.
All patents are published and they will be there forever — it’s very rewarding.
- WAYNE DEMELLO
“At Tandem, the pump is personal,” Wayne said. “If you’re a pump user, it’s something you touch every day. Any way that we can lessen the burden of diabetes for someone, it’s really meaningful.”
Thank you, Wayne, for helping to grow our portfolio of intellectual property.