How I got Pheronym's first patent and the trademark

Dr. Fatma Kaplan
6 min readMar 1

Securing intellectual property is among the many challenges women innovators face in agricultural innovation. To learn how these amazing women entrepreneurs tackle and overcome the challenges, listen to the “Together in Innovation: Agricultural Advances Webinar” by USPTO or read below for some highlights.

Panelists and link to the webinar:

Briefly, tell us a bit more about yourself and your company. (Include #Domestic patents, trademarks, etc..)

I am Fatma Kaplan, CEO and Founder of Pheronym. We use a new kind of pheromone from microscopic roundworms called nematodes to control agricultural pests in the soil.

I come from a farming family and have an undergraduate degree in agriculture engineering, a Master's in Horticultural Sciences, and a Ph.D. in plant molecular and cellular biology. After I received my Ph.D., I accepted a postdoc in analytical Chemistry where I purified and identified the first sex pheromone of a model nematode, C. elegans.

After identifying the C. elegans sex pheromone, the USDA recruited me to apply this knowledge to agriculturally important nematode pests. Plant parasitic nematodes!

These are the bad guys that attack the plant roots.

At the USDA, I quickly learned that adapting new knowledge from a model system to agricultural pests was not easy. Despite the challenges, I was determined to bring this technology to the farmers because I believed in the technology. I knew that it was going to make a difference in farmers' lives. At the USDA, I became an inventor in 4 patent applications (3 were US and one international). The patent cost was not something that I had to worry about.

Then I left the USDA and started Pheronym. When you are a startup founder and decide to patent your idea, the question you ask yourself is, “How can I afford to patent my idea?” Oh, so many fees: IP lawyer fees for preparing a patent, USPTO patent application fees, PCT fees, maintenance fees, office action fees, and more……

Even though I did contemplate preparing my patent applications, I was wise enough to work with an IP lawyer. While my co-founder and I were learning about patent applications on the USPTO website, we discovered that micro-entities had lower fees. In the beginning, Pheronym did…

Dr. Fatma Kaplan