Patent Agent

Tod A Waldrop

For as long as he can remember, Tod A. Waldrop has had an interest in science, but he never imagined that it would lead to his current job as a patent agent with the Intellectual Property Law Group at Clariant Corporation in Charlotte, NC.

“My job is to protect the inventions within my company,” he said. “When an employee invents a new product or process, I work with them to decide whether to file for patent protection or to keep the invention a secret.”

If a decision is made to file a patent application, Waldrop conducts a search for all materials related to the subject matter and then writes a patent application based on a combination of the company’s own lab results and the available literature.

“The thing I like most about my job is getting to see and learn about the inventions,” he said, “and the most rewarding part takes place when, and if, the U.S. Patent Office approves the patent.”

Chemical inventions are the result of long, hard work on the part of many people. In addition to the scientists themselves, there are people like Waldrop who are making sure that the application process is done thoroughly and correctly. The result, he said, is that in numerous ways he has had a role in obtaining the patent for any number of chemical inventions.

He has worked on patent applications for – among other things -- new colorants for textiles, paints, and plastics; moisturizers for shampoos and cosmetics; and processes for making pharmaceutical precursors.

Waldrop, who has a bachelor of science degree and a Ph.D. in textile and polymer science, said that he walked into his job both over and underqualified. The position itself requires a bachelor of science degree, not a Ph.D., but it also requires skills, such as writing and knowing how to file a patent application, that he learned on the job.

As a young student, Waldrop said he always had an interest in math and chemistry. “I don't remember not being interested in how things were made or what made them work,” he said.

“My job is to protect the inventions within my company”