That's me, babies! One of my ideas finally made it through the near-interminable wait in the US Patent Office. Big Ups to Christa, too, my mentor when I got to the printer group.
It was submitted December 2004!! Normally it can take a long time to go through the US Patent Office as the clerks try to determine if there is prior art or if it actually is patentable.
At work, if someone submits an idea, it goes to the patent committee, which is a group of senior engineers from just about every area in technology. If it passes muster through a scan over email, the inventor gets to defend it in person at a weekly patent meeting. You better have your ducks in a row. If you successfully defend it here, it goes through Legal to our patent attorneys, with whom you work to create the actual disclosure. Then it goes to the Patent Office where you may or may not hear anything for some number of years, and all of a sudden, BOOM! You are a patent holder.
While your idea is at the patent office but before it is granted patent status, it is an application. I have more waiting in the wings, so hopefully this is just the start.
You get a plaque in a meeting, a similar plaque goes up on the wall at work, and you get a free certificate that you can frame (or buy a metal plaque). There are also other benefits for this process, but that's just money and stock options - BFD, right? Yes!
I don't know if getting on through the USPTO will open any doors, but I'll let you know.