Monday, February 07, 2005

Nanotechnology and the law

From an article by Sonia E. Miller in the Feb. 1, 2005 issue [page 5] of the New York Law Journal:

Qustion to Mihail C. Roco, Ph.D., the architect behind the National
Nanotechnology Initiative [NNI]: What would you advise the legal community regarding the advance of nanotechnology?

A: We are in the 'Age of innovation.' Society is changing not only through nanotechnology, but in connection with converging technologies integrated at the nanoscale, impacting policies about investments, laws, and education. The legal system is important to guard personal freedom of decision and the right of each
individual to have access to the best information in a society expected to become more complex because of the rapid advance of these technologies.

[Yes, but what was your advice?]

Question to James R. Von Ehr II, the founder and chairman of Zyvex
Corporation: The federal government funds studies on the societal implications of nanotechnology. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently created Category 977 specifically for nanotechnology. What, in your belief, are some anticipated legal implications of nanotechnology?

A: Patents concern me greatly, particularly in nanotubes. There are so many patents being issued. I fear that we are setting ourselves up for many years of IP lawsuits. This will have a chilling effect on innovation.

[Not really a dominant patent in nanotubes, and no composition of matter patent on buckyballs.]

Question to Douglas W. Jamison of New York-based Harris & Harris Group, Inc.: What makes nanotechnology different from previous innovations?

A: It makes it difficult to start a lab in a garage. There is a lot of capital investment at the research level. Nanotechnology is very rigorous science protected by rigorous patents. It is about new compositions of matter that have different material characteristics because of their size. It will redefine how we think about governing future industries. The courts and legal system need to be educated to understand this difficult and complex science.

Question to Manish Mehta, Ph.D., the director of collaboration programs at the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences [NCMS]: What top challenges face the nanomanufacturing industry today?

A: The top industry concerns are: public perception that
nanotechnology products are far from commercialization; insufficient investment capital; intellectual property issues impeding commercialization progress; process scalability; high cost of processing; and that the societal benefits of nanotechnology are not yet recognized. The implications of nanoscale products
need to be recognized because liability could extend back to the
manufacturing process.

Keep in mind that, while it has been said that uncertainty over patents impeded commercialization of the buckyball (C60), the US composition of matter patent vanished into an interference black hole. Lack of commerical opportunites were the big problem. The Wall Street Journal wrote "Whatever happened to the buckyball?" and no satisfactory answer has ever been provided.

***UPDATE on Oct. 8, 2006 ***

A google search on "whatever happened..." did NOT return this IPBiz post.

It did however return

Recent Developments - Bucky Balls
"Whatever Happened to the Buckyball?", May 4th, 1998. THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, SCIENCE SECTION , May 4th, 1998 ran a provocative article called: "Whatever Happened to the Buckyball?" by SUSAN WARREN, Staff Reporter.

from the URL:

Query: remember those articles in Intellectual Property Today?


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