Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Nanotech Patent Landscape in the UK 2009 : Nanotechnology Patents May be Declining

The Nanotechnology e-News Bulletin of April 30, 2009 in FREE REPORT: IPO produce UK Innovation Nanotechnology Patent Landscape Analysis 2009 refers to a free report (80 pdf pages) just issued on the nanotechnology patent landscape in the United Kingdom 2009:

"The UK Intellectual Property Office has compiled a nanotechnology patent landscape for the UK. This reports on UK patent data and reflects on UK innovation in the field of nanotechnology...."

UK innovation nanotechnology patent landscape analysis April 2009
Intellectual Property Office
IPO Patent Informatics Project Report: UK innovation nanotechnology patent landscape analysis Customer: Nanotechnology KTN
Customer Contact: Dr Toby Gill
IPO Contact: Ben Buchanan, Patent Informatics Manager, IPO
e: ben.buchanan@ipo.gov.uk phone: (01633) 814742
Date prepared: 16 April 2009

The report comes to the following Conclusions:

"The peak of activity of UK-based nanotechnology patent activity has been in recent years, from 2000-2003 and may exhibit a genuine decline since then. The most prolific classification relates to medicinal preparations and cyclodextrins, whilst other classifications relating to medicinal, topical or cosmetic preparations occupy seven of the top ten places.

Looking at sheer patent volumes, the main industrial filers are Tioxide, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Philips. Cancer Research Campaign and QinetiQ are in the top five. Cambridge University is also ranked in the top five applicants but 67% of activity is from the commercial sector. However, the fact that 14% of activity is from universities is a significant point to note. Furthermore, much of this activity is very recent (post-1999) indicating that research is still ongoing. Cambridge, Oxford, and Glasgow were the top three universities.

Commercial activity overall continues up until 2003 with a subsequent sharp tail off which is likely due at least in part to publication delay. The top commercial applicant, Tioxide, has a peak year in 1995 but activity is zero beyond 1997. The second commercial applicant, Cancer Research Campaign, had a peak year in 1993 and appear to be active up to the present day. QinetiQ had a peak year in 1999 and their activity also appears to continue up to the present. A narrowing down of the temporal range could identify more recent UK based activity and provide further evidence for current specialisms.

In terms of the general categories used, "applications of nanotechnology" is the most prolific. This grouping was frequently applied in conjunction with others (e.g. an application of bionanotechnology would invite double grouping). The transition of science-base to technical application is often regarded as an indication of emergence and gaining maturity. The smallest technology grouping was that of nanofiltration/separation, but many such techniques may exist in the working up of the nanosystems prepared. Nanotoxicity, even on a global scale, provides a small dataset, but further work on precisely defining this category could provide more insights. Nanomaterials / nanostructures, bionanotechnology, and nanometrology have decreased more readily in recent years than applications of nanotechnology, electronic applications. Government applicants are overrepresented in the field of nanomaterials / nanostructures. Cambridge University is a top applicant in the areas of nanomaterials, electronic applications and nanometrology.

The patent holdings profile for nanotechnology shows that the field still appears to have significant amounts of research ongoing, with a relatively small number of established applicants having large portfolios. Given that the dataset covers the whole of nanotechnology, time spent further studying separate research areas could provide evidence for emergent technologies, as the large volumes of patents seems to obscure indicators of such areas. In comparison with EP data, the UK data shows more activity in pharmaceutical fields, whereas thin films and related fields appear more significant in the EP data.

Overall there appear to be aspects of UK nanotechnology activity which are fertile sources of patentable technology, however, in the current dataset they appear to be somewhat obscured by areas of previous activity, such that they cannot necessarily be identified as emerging or emergent areas. Further work in this area could address this."

See the whole report, including the final Recommendations.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Nanotech Growth and Nanotechnology Patents

At IPFrontline.com in Nanotechnology Patents and Challenges Raj Bawa, PhD writes to open his article that:

"The time for nanotechnology has come and a classic technological revolution is unfolding. According to the National Science Foundation, by 2015 the annual global market for nano-related goods and services will top $1 trillion, making it one of the fastest growing industries in history. If these figures prove to be accurate, nanotechnology will become a larger economic force than the combined telecommunications and information technology industries at the beginning of the technology boom of the late 1990s." Read more here.

An interesting introduction to the legal challenges created by nanotechnology in patents is found in the book, Nanotechnology Patents: A Legal Insight, by C. Sri Krishna, ICFAI University Press, ISBN 8131413357, 2008 edition.

Nanotechnology Now wrote about the book on May 9, 2009 - here is the abstract:


Nanotechnology is an evolving branch of science. It is a powerful technology of the current era with wide range of industrial applications and reconstructing of nature at molecular level. It is concerned with the objects that range between 1 to 100 nanometers. A nanometer is a one billionth part of a meter (1x10e-9). Nanotech products are outcome of nano-techniques and include nano-particles production, nanofabrication and nanobiotechnology. These products have wide applications in various science and technological areas. Investments in the field of nanotechnology research and developmental activities are constantly increasing. Many countries have allocated huge amounts, in private and public sectors, to these programmes to boost its activities further. The increase in number of nano-patents have posed several legal issues particularly pertaining to the patenting activities, claims, anticommons, thickets, land grab, doctrine of inherency, doctrine of claim differentiation etc. This book contains articles that explore various aspects of nanotechnology, patenting of nanotech inventions and economic, ethical and societal perspectives of the nanotech patents."

Amicus Books has a long review of the book here.

In Nanotechnology Law & Business (produced by the Berkeley Electronic Press -bepress), Volume 1, Issue 1 2004 Article 4, Vivek Koppikar, Stephen B. Maebiusy and J. Steven Ruttz write about Current Trends in Nanotech Patents: A View From Inside the Patent Office. Here is the abstract:


Patents are critical to commercialization of nanotechnology. With large numbers of patents being filed, investors, lawyers, and managers must understand legal issues involving nanotech patents and carefully monitor patent issuances, licenses, and litigation. In this article, PTO examiner Vivek Koppikar and patent attorneys Stephen Maebius and Steve Rutt discuss trends in nanotechnology patents. They first survey the patent landscape and demonstrate that large numbers of nanotech patents are being filed in different areas of nanotechnology. They then discuss what the PTO is doing to prepare for the continued increase in applications. Finally, they analyze obstacles that applicants might face in filing nanotech patents. Specifically, the doctrines of inherent anticipation, obviousness, and enablement might be used by examiners to reject or require amendment of claims.

Nanotech is the Nanoscale of the Future : The Study, Control and Engineering of Matter at the Level of Atoms and Molecules is the Next Scientific Wave

What is nanotechnology?

The Wikipedia relates, for example, that:"DNA nanotechnology utilizes the specificity of Watson-Crick basepairing to construct well-defined structures out of DNA and other nucleic acids" and that the element "Gold" at the nanoscale of nanotech is liquid at room temperature.

Nanotechnology (Nanotech) is the coming scientific wave of the future, dealing with the study, control and engineering of matter at the nanoscale of atoms and molecules. As written at the Wikipedia article on Nanotechnology:
  • Generally nanotechnology deals with structures of the size 100 nanometers or smaller, and involves developing materials or devices within that size....

  • One nanometer (nm) is one billionth, or 10-9, of a meter. By comparison, typical carbon-carbon bond lengths, or the spacing between these atoms in a molecule, are in the range 0.12-0.15 nm, and a DNA double-helix has a diameter around 2 nm. On the other hand, the smallest cellular life-forms, the bacteria of the genus Mycoplasma, are around 200 nm in length.

  • To put that scale in another context, the comparative size of a nanometer to a meter is the same as that of a marble to the size of the earth.

  • Or another way of putting it: a nanometer is the amount a man's beard grows in the time it takes him to raise the razor to his face.