Friday, March 31, 2006

Patent thickets in nanomedicine?

Of the comment below, recall CIRM has already found itself in a "patent thicket" created by WARF in the area of stem cells.

-->from SlashDot:

cheesedog writes "Over 5000 nanomedicine/nanotech patents have now been granted, and the patent land grab continues unabated. Dr. Raj Bawa says, "Patent thickets are considered to discourage and stifle innovation. Claims in such patent thickets have been characterized as often broad, overlapping and conflicting - a scenario ripe for massive patent litigation battles in the future." According to Bawa, nanomedicine start-ups may soon find themselves in patent disputes with large, established companies, as well as between themselves. In most of the patent battles the larger entity with the deeper pockets will rule the day even if the innovators are on the other side."

Bawa had previously written:

In December 2003, the US Congress passed the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) of 2000 into law and recommended appropriating $3.7 billion for the next four years for the creation of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office along with funding for various federal nanotechnology initiatives and programs. [IPBiz note: The overall Federal R&D proposed budget funding (FY2006) is cutting *real* Federal R&D spending for the first time in a decade; NNI was cut by 2.5% to $1.1B.]

The European Union has earmarked $1 billion from 2002 to 2006, while Japan has increased funding from $120 million in 1997 to nearly $750 million in 2002. Note that it is impossible to accurately determine the total funding in nanotechnology since these figures do not include private funding.

Some additional statistics from Nanotech Report 200322 are summarized below:
Public and private companies will spend close to $3 billion worldwide on nanotechnology R and D in 2003.

The US government has appropriated $2 billion for nanotechnology since 2000, putting it on track to be the largest US government funded science initiative since the Apollo Mission.

Presently, more than 700 companies are involved in nanotechnology.
40,000 US scientists are currently capable of working in nanotechnology.
In the past four years, more than 1,700 small tech jobs have been created from venture capital funding.

$900 million in venture capital funding has gone to nanotechnology startups since 1999, with $386 million invested in 2002.

Despite an overall decline in total venture capital from 2001 to 2002, venture investments in nanotechnology have increased (251% in electronics, 211% in industrial products and 313% in life sciences).

Critics question the wisdom of investing such large amounts for a technology that has generated few products, and charge that politicians have been cleverly sold unrealistic economic benefits of nanotechnology. In any case, we should not overestimate what can be achieved within the next five years nor underestimate what can be done by the year 2015. Time will tell if this technology will be a “disruptive technology” and revolutionize worldwide markets.


Blogger grantpaten said...

The problem of "patent thickets" will only be resolved when the U.S. PTO greatly improves and boosts the support for the examination of "nano patent applications." Of course, it should be remembered that in the early 1900's, George B. Selden and others held a thicket of patents which supposedly were going to prevent the advancement of the automobile. In other words, over time, the thicket problem will sort itself out, with the assistance of the courts.

While we should not overstate the impact of nanotechnology, neither should we understate or underestimate its future impact. Again, in 1900, X-rays, automobiles, and uranium were mere curiosities, and in 1903, the Wright Brothers flying device was considered a novelty. In other words, we cannot predict how nanotechnology will change our lives, but we should certainly continue to advance this most interesting area of science. Who knows, the use of nanotechnology carbon fibers may lead to the repair of severed spinal columns, allowing paraplegics to walk again.

6:18 AM  

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