On February 4, 1941, Roy J. Plunkett was granted the patent for “Tetrafluoroethylene Polymers” also known as Teflon®. U.S. Patent No. 2,230,654.

Roy Plunkett worked for DuPont research laboratories in Edison, New Jersey, when he accidentally came across the creation of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Plunkett and his assistant Jack Rebok were assigned the task of developing alternative chlorofluorocarbon refrigerants. The two chemists made about 100 pounds of Tetrafluoroethylene (TFE), a gas commonly used in refrigeration and tested its chemical reaction. When finished for the day they froze the TFE in pressurized cylinders and when they came back to prepare the cylinders for use, they were effectively empty. Plunkett and Rebok were puzzled by this, they opened the canister to find the TFE had polymerized into a white powdery substance.

Plunket studied the powdery substance further and found its properties to be waxy, slippery, chemically stable and had a high melting point.

Teflon® was originally used by the military in artillery shell fuses and the production of nuclear materials. When Teflon® was first introduced it was expensive to make but now it is found in so many things such as, stain repellent in fabrics, it is used in windshields of vehicles, electrical wires and it is most commonly used in cookware to eliminate food items sticking to the pan in addition to reducing the amount of scratches from cooking utensils.

The properties of Teflon® were also used as an adjective to describe the characteristics of certain people. Former President Ronald Reagan was known as the “Teflon President” because he avoided numerous scandals that plagued his administration. John Gotti, notorious mob boss, was called the “Teflon Don” as he was tried for multiple crimes but none of the charges “stuck”.

In addition to the granted patent DuPont registered the name Teflon® for a trademark and was granted it in 1946.

Suiter Swantz IP is a full-service intellectual property law firm, based in Omaha, NE, serving all of Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota. If you have any intellectual property questions or need assistance with any patent, trademark, or copyright matters and would like to speak with one of our patent attorneys please contact us.