Thursday, April 21, 2005

NANOTECHNOLOGY BECOMING ALL TANGLED UP: A gold-rush mentality has taken hold in nanotechnology, and patents are the precious resource being hoarded. As of late March 2005, 3,818 U.S. nanotechnology patents had been issued with another 1,777 patent applications awaiting examination. But entrepreneurs' ability to turn their patents into cash may be limited by crowded claims that overlap with one another, according to a new report from Lux Research entitled"The Nanotech Intellectual Property Landscape."

The study determined that, because so many patents have been filed relating to nanomaterials, and so many of them seem to overlap, companies that want to use these building blocks in products will likely be forced to license patents from many different sources.

To analyze the landscape of nanotechnology IP, Lux Research and Foley & Lardner systematically reviewed 1,084 U.S. patents - representing 19,485 claims -- that relate to five nanomaterials: 1) dendrimers, 2) quantum dots, 3) carbon nanotubes, 4) fullerenes, and 5) nanowires. The patents were reviewed manually on a claim-by-claim basis; no software automation was used. The team broke down patents for each nanomaterial platform by application and rated them according to how much "white space" remains for new claims and how entangled existing patents look, using a rigorous, quantitative methodology.

A summary of the findings can be found here.

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