Tuesday, October 19, 2004

USPTO creates nanotechnology reference guide

from smalltimes:

The U.S. Patent Office has created a cross-reference digest designed to improve the ability to search and examine nanotech-related patents.

The office said in a written release that the digest seeks to guide the search for prior art, serve as a collection of issued U.S. patents and published pre-grant patent applications, and help develop an expanded cross-reference art collection classification schedule. That schedule, ultimately designed to replace the new digest, will include definitions, sub-classes and search notes.

**There's certainly no shortage of published papers on buckminsterfullerene (aka buckyball), fullerenes, and nanotubes. Further, although there have been allegations that uncertainty over patent ownership of fullerene technology has impeded development, it may be more likely that undertainty over viable applications has been the obstacle.

***The patent office's definition for nanotechnology requires that a least one dimension of the item of an invention be less than 100 nanometers, but small size alone is not enough. The nanoscale element of the product or process must be essential to whatever properties make it novel.

"People looking for venture capital money will call anything small 'nanotechnology,' " said Bruce Kisliuk, director of the section of the patent office that handles biotechnology and pharmaceutical applications, who is coordinating the work on nanotechnology issues. [i.e., the call of "nano, nano."]

The decision to set up Class 977, as the new patent class category will be officially designated, is a recognition that a swarm of nanoscale inventions is headed the patent office's way. Some are already on the market, including fibers for clothing and mattresses that are highly stain resistant and water resistant; particles of titanium dioxide that make sunscreen transparent; and nanocrystals of silver for antimicrobial bandages [see earlier post on Hatch-Waxman work out of Penn State].


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