Thursday, June 02, 2005

Small nanobuzz

from R&D, May 1, 2005, Nanomaterial IP mapped out:

"A gold-rush mentality has taken hold in nanotechnology, and patents
are the precious resource being hoarded." This is one of the themes outlined in a new research report, The Nanotech Intellectual Property Landscape, prepared by nanotech research firm, Lux Research, and patent attorneys, Foley & Lardner, both of New York, N.Y.

[LBE note: as to fullerenes, the gold-rush was ten years ago, and has long since played out. Ancient history.]

To analyze this landscape, the organizations reviewed 1,084 U.S.
patents, representing 19,485 claims, relating to five nanomaterials: 1) dendrimers, 2) quantum dots, 3) carbon nanotubes, 4) fullerenes, and 5) nanowires.

Their findings include:

Quantum dots have a particularly knotty entanglement for general
claims that cover the materials themselves and not any specific application, casting doubt on the commercial value of their IP. Carbon nanotube patents look messy in
electronics, but promising in energy, healthcare, and
cosmetics. Fullerenes show less entanglement than the other categories. The bad news: Many patents issued
may be useless-inventors have given up on a third of them by failing to pay patent maintenance fees.

[LBE note: There is a definitional issue. The class of fullerenes encompasses carbon nanotubes, so it is hard to "divide them." Further, some carbon nanotubes are nanowires. The basic patent on C60, buckminsterfullerene, never issued in the US. Not much new here.]


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