Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Comments on Lemley's Patenting Nanotechnology

Lemley says that there are `three big differences' between the small nanotechnology and other inventions.

"First, this is the first new field in a century in which people started patenting the basic ideas at the outset. In most other fields of invention over the past century - computer hardware, software, biotechnology, the Internet - the basic building blocks of the field were unpatented. In nanotech, by contrast, companies and universities alike are patenting early and often."

[Well, 100 years ago the Wright Brothers got the basic patent on three dimensional flight control, and 50 years ago Bell Labs got the controlling patents on the transistor. Fairchild and TI shared controlling patent interests in the integrated circuit. Whether anyone "controls" nanotechnology in 2005 in the way these other folks controlled basic technology areas may be seriously questioned.]

The second difference, according to Lemley, is that the new technology is `cross-industry'. Thus, "a significant number of nanotechnology patentees will own rights not just in the industry in which they participate, but in other industries as well".

[The inventions of Bell Labs, Fairchild and TI were very much cross industry.]

Third, a large number of the basic patents have been issued to universities, over the last about three decades. "While universities have no direct incentive to restrict competition, their interests may or may not align with the optimal implementation of building-block nanotechnology inventions," opines Lemley.

[The Boyer/Cohen inventions of Stanford were readily licensed and did not really impede anyone.]

[basic article from the hindubusinessline]


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