It is pointed out that biochemists and molecular biologists embarking on full time research should be able to respond constructively to the current pressure for commercial exploitation of their achievements, in the form of patents. Learning to do an adequate search and draft an application will save time and money. The requirements of novelty, inventive step, and usefulness are explained briefly. Priority in the event of dispute will hinge on either being first to file or first to invent, with the latter depending on the integrity of the laboratory notebook. Safeguards against premature disclosure are explained. Some idiosyncrasies of biotechnology patents are discussed, as is the importance of identifying a licensee.