2013 is flying by, remarkably fast, so it was time to check how the class 977 patent filings are coming for the new year. Last year provided a record 4,098 nanotechnology publications. After 16 weeks in 2013, the PTO is on pace to publish 3,478 nanotechnology publications. While the number is projected to be lower, there is still clearly a large volume of nanotechnology filings for the PTO to examine. Stay tuned.
On April 15, 2013, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Myriad Genetics v. Association for Molecular Pathology litigation. The patent world is watching, particularly those who focus on emerging technologies. On March 14, 2013, the NanoBusiness Commercialization Association filed a brief in support of Myriad Genetics (brief prepared by Foley & Lardner, LLP). In addition to arguing that the patent claims should be patent eligible, which is the essence of the case, the brief also argues that patents do not preempt others from experimenting on, improving upon, or designing around a patented invention. With today being the first day of the new first-to-file regime, patent lawyers of all stripes are busy these days keeping up with dramatic changes to the patent system. The Supreme Court could use the Myriad case to establish a new paradigm for patent eligibility. Stay tuned.
Technology Review recently highlighted new published research from IBM and others on nanoscale magnetic resonance imaging (or nanoscale NMR). Perhaps proteins can be imaged.
IBM nanoscale research is noted in this link. IBM has hundreds of granted patents falling into the class 977 nanotechnology class.
IBM symbolizes as well as anyone the convergence revolution of physical sciences, biological sciences, and information technology.
I attended today the USPTO partnership meeting on “additive manufacturing” (aka 3D Printing). The content was excellent, covering both talks and demonstrations. Companies presenting included 3D Systems, Stratasys, Shapeways, MakerBot, Ex One, and EOS. Several hundred persons attended, including in person and via the web, and the room energy was excellent throughout the three hours plus of content. The 3D printing revolution appears to be on after some 25 years of gestation.
The USPTO should be congratulated for putting together this informative, exciting event. The USPTO did not give too much overview of how patenting impacts this, but patenting was frequently noted by the speakers, and the PTO did note that there have been around 6,800 patent applications filed in this area over the past ten years. I was particularly struck by the concept that 3D printing can in some cases make objects which cannot be made by other ways. I would also like to hear more about nanoscale aspects of this including materials, interfaces, and nanoscale resolution. One of the driving forces for nanotechnology and nanomanufacturing is additive manufacturing. This recently published U.S. patent application from Lockheed Martin (2013/0018243) shows use of carbon nanotubes and uses the phrase “bio-additive manufacturing.” We will continue to monitor patent filings in this important area as 2013 progresses.
In 3D printing, an object is built up layer-by-layer under computer controlled manufacturing. The talks today covered the historical development including the original stereolithography, laser sintering, binder-on-powder printing, and inkjet 3D printing. Today, some of the companies are trying to “democratize” the technology and introduce this wonder to the general public. With 3D printing, everyone can become a creator. Recently media reports on 3D printing have been abundant. Hopefully, venture capital will be interested. Stay tuned!
The Economist, one of the more worthy media sources these days for connecting technology to larger society, included a page on nanomedicine in its special issue, “The World in 2013.” (page 128). The article is by Professors Omid Farokhzad and Rober Langer and focuses on bio nanotechnology from BIND Biosciences. BIND recently announced a development deal with Amgen. Professor Langer is a founder of BIND and Professor Farokhzad also works closely with BIND (according to the BIND Web page). The technology is for polymeric nanoparticles which smartly carry a payload. Cancer treatment is a leading application. Patenting is an important part of the company strategy per their press releases and web page content.
Lets hope more deals are in the works for nanomedicine as 2013 moves ahead into the market place from academic research. Venture capital is an important part of this story.
In Germany this week on business which has me thinking about some things related to Germany. For example, what can we learn from Germany and their relative economic success, including energy policy and manufacturing? Important current article in Technology Review reviews the current debate on manufacturing and the wisdom in looking to Germany for clues. Advanced manufacturing, including 3-D printing and nanotechnology, are important themes. The cited Brookings study (2012) has more information about Germany, including its R&D networks, continuous vocational training, stable access to financing, and long term approaches to problem solving. Of course, one also has to review the progress in other countries also including Japan and South Korea.
I reproduced part of the Technology Review article below:
“…, the White House has proposed a series of measures to accelerate advanced manufacturing, including an additional $418 million for advanced manufacturing R&D (a 19 percent increase over current levels); $8 billion in new funding for community colleges to train people with the skills manufacturers need; a bundle of tax breaks for U.S. manufacturers; and a $1 billion program to create 15 national institutes aimed at developing new manufacturing techniques in areas such as 3-D printing and nanotechnology.”
“The government’s approach has a committed chorus of supporters who believe active intervention is needed. In February, the Brookings Institution released a paper arguing for a manufacturing policy similar to that of Germany. That country, which carefully manages its manufacturing sector, still maintains a trade surplus with China and has lost fewer of its manufacturing jobs than the U.S. has.”
Another interesting nanotechnology book recently appeared, The Visioneers, by W. Patrick McCray, 2013, 323 pages, $29.95 hardback at Barnes & Noble (“How a group of elite scientists pursued space colonies, nanotechnologies, and a limitless future”). One focus in this book is on the history of nanotechnology up to around 2004, including the role of Eric Drexler and Richard Smalley and their famous debate. The origin of the NNI is briefly covered. The multiple strands of nanotechnology are explored, ranging from futuristic concepts to advanced materials science for making products now. Tensions between different nanotech philosophies and groups are explored. Good read, although it would have been interesting if more content had been provided for after 2004. Also, nanotechnology is only one of two conveyed stories of visioneering.
Also, 3D printing seems to be the rage these days in the technical and general media. The USPTO will hold a special session on 3D printing on January 23,2013. The 3D printing company ExOne is announcing an IPO attempt. In 3D printing, thin layers are built on one another. Nanotechnology connects in the materials used for 3D printing, as well as the notion of making thinner and thinner layers. Where is nanotechnology going? It is impacting personalized medicine and energy.
Clearly, one visioneering answer also now arising is in 3D printing.
The nanotechnology patent filing boom continues. In 2012, the USPTO published 4,098 nanotechnology class 977 applications, which represents a 19.2% increase over last year. By way of comparison, in 2008, the USPTO published only 827 nanotechnology applications, and in 2009, only 1,499. Hence, the number has almost tripled in three years.
This patenting trend is consistent, as we have previously commented in our November 25, September 4, and July 8, 2012 posts. Hopefully, federal policy makers are noticing this important trend and managing well the implications including licensing and litigation. At least 12.4% of the filings report a federal funding statement as required under the Bayh-Dole act.
PCAST recently submitted a very interesting, readable, and searchable report to the OSTP on federal policy for the future of basic research funding and commercialization (124 page pdf). Nanotechnology was mentioned on page 22 as an example of benefits of basic research including its influence on energy:
“-Nanotechnology research, on the heels of coordinated Federal investment, is leading to advances in areas such as new drug delivery systems, more resilient materials and fabrics, safer and more effective industrial catalysts, faster computer chips, and sustainable development in water and energy resources.”
Nanotechnology also appeared on page 45 with respect to discussion of university “proof-of-concept” centers:
“-The (MIT) Deshpande Center supports emerging technologies, including biotechnology, biomedical devices, information technology, new materials, nanotechnology, and energy innovations. It sponsors a grant program, a catalyst (mentor) program, innovation teams (i-Teams), and events.”
Finally, nanotechnology was mentioned on page 80 with respect to attracting researchers from abroad to come to the U.S.
Commercialization, patents, and technology transfer are important themes mentioned throughout. Nanotechnology is but one of a variety of “labels” used to describe sectors of research for policy analysis. Nanotechnology integrates closely with many of these other “labels.” Hopefully, its importance will not be lost in the integration.
In a move which could favorably impact the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), House Congressional Republicans recently selected Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) to chair the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Rep. Smith has been a supporter of nanotechnology, having sponsored legislation such as HR 5940 to improve the National Nanotechnology Initiative. A statement released by Rep. Smith on his Web site reads as follows:
“As Chairman of the Science Committee, I will be an advocate for America’s innovators by promoting legislation that encourages scientific discoveries, space exploration, and the application of new technologies to expand our economy and create jobs for American workers.
“Over 80% of the Committee’s $39 billion budget touches on research and development. We can’t have innovation without research and development. And the purpose of the Science Committee is to encourage the R&D that leads to new innovations.
“The Science Committee can play an exciting part in the discoveries of science, the exploration of space and the development of new technologies. I appreciate the confidence of my colleagues and look forward to chairing the Committee next Congress.”
House Speaker John Boehner supported Smith’s appointment.
“Throughout his tenure on the House Judiciary Committee, Lamar has been a strong leader on important issues facing the American people. He is dedicated to promoting economic growth to help put Americans back to work, encouraging innovation and promoting national security. I am confident that he will bring the same strong leadership and work ethic to the Science Committee as Chairman, and I look forward to working with him in the 113th Congress.”
Established in 1958, the Science, Space and Technology Committee has jurisdiction over all non-defense federal scientific research and development. Specifically, the Committee has partial or complete jurisdiction over the following federal agencies: NASA, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, FEMA, the U.S. Fire Administration, and United States Geological Survey, among others.
The Committee has five subcommittees – the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education, the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, and the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation.
As chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Smith has spearheaded the patent-reform legislation known as the America Invents Act. He has also worked to increase opportunities for foreign graduates with science and engineering degrees to remain in the United States.
I saw this recent BBC article re spiderman and nanotechnology – enjoy. The article notes the technology of one company, nanoGriptech, which is a spin-off company from Carnegie Mellon University (see Professor Metin Sitti). More generally, the article relates to bio-inspired adhesives (see geckos, for example) and applications with robotics. NanoGriptech was funded early on by the Pennsylvania NanoMaterials Commercialization Center. I encourage readers to explore this web page for interesting updates including inputs from their new leader, Leone Hermans-Blackburn.
Patent publications continued last week on Thursday, despite Thanksgiving. We checked. The USPTO continues to be on pace to publish about 4,000 nanotech class 977 patent publications in 2012. This would be a record as the previous high last year was 3,439. This record explosion is a solid, long-term trend, representing a substantive increase of at least 15%, as noted in our prior postings this year on September 4, 2012 and July 8, 2012.
W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc. is now petitioning to the Supreme Court over a long-running case involving joint inventorship law. In an era of collaborative research, joint inventorship law continues to be a critical aspect of groups and individuals communicating with each other over technology innovation. The technology behind the patent issue is the Gore-Tex(R) expanded polytetrafluoroethylene advanced material and its microsctructure. Gore argues, briefly, in its policy aspects that the Supreme Court must intervene to avoid chilling collaborative research and harming academic research, including research which is part of the Bayh-Dole system. Important, interesting reading.
Miracles of nature and science are all around us, and one of them is the abilty of an organism to heal itself. If skin is cut, the skin can repair itself. Can that concept also be applied to synthetic materials and coatings? One company trying to commercialize the concept is Autonomic Materials, Inc. (AMI). In the AMI approach, microcapsules are used. AMI recently announced it completed a series B financing, with Phoenix Venture Partners investing. In these tougher economic times, including tough times for venture capital, AMI’s receipt of investment is good news. More about Phoenix Venture Partners can be found in attached link.
MSNBC web page today has posted an excellent brief piece on ten ways nanotech is being used now and people may not even know it. We recommend looking. Number one was band-aids; others are cool; but they finish with an eye-opener…. not necessarily appropriate for a law firm blog arguably ? Please read and enjoy.
Congratulations to Carnegie Mellon University for breaking ground on a new energy/nanotech-related building last weekend, as they report on their university webpage:
“Under sunny skies that were later punctuated with daytime pyrotechnics, the excitement was palpable as Carnegie Mellon University broke ground for Sherman and Joyce Bowie Scott Hall — future home to the university’s work in nanotechnology, biomedical engineering and the new Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation.”
Located in western Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon also addressed issues during the ground breaking events about how to handle shale gas and water:
Presenting the four top energy topics voted on by the audience were CMU’s:
- Jeanne VanBriesen, Shale gas development: what’s the story with water?
- Baruch Fischhoff, How will human behavior affect energy futures?
- Ed Rubin, Clean coal: oxymoron, or path to sustainability?
- Jay Whitacre, Can low cost batteries help us to use more renewables and build fewer transmission lines?
Good to see: high throughput, inexpensive DNA sequencing is being featured on NPR this week in a series entitled the $1,000 Genome. Many of the technologies for this revolution in sequencing, of course, relate closing to or directly are nanotechnology (e.g., nanopore, microfluidic, and/or lab-on-a-chip technologies). Personalized medicine depends on it. More generally, the interface between biology and electronics is one of the most compelling arguments for further development and commercialization of nanotechnology and, more particularly, bio nanotechnology. Another leading example is allowing partially blind or blind persons to see better with artificial retinas.
A brief check of the nanotechnology class 977 patent literature shows IBM has activity in this area. See, for example, their recent US patent publications 2012/0199483 (published August 9, 2012); 2012/0193237 (published August 2, 2012); 2011/0308949 (December 22, 2011); and 2011/0279125 (November 17, 2011).
Hopefully, angel and venture capital investment will also flow to these exciting areas. This appears to be turning out to be one of many virtually secret “killer apps” for nanotech. For example, the NPR series does not delve too much into how the sequencing is done (per the series, sequencing done in a ”black box”). Hopefully, despite the secrecy, the federal and state governments, including those who fund and run the NNI, are watching.
Patent filings which refer to hydraulic fracturing are on the rise. In fact, the number appears to have almost doubled in the past five years. This is based on a review of the published patent applications at the USPTO web site. In 2012, pro-rated as of today, there should be about 473 patent applications publishing. In 2007, that number was only 246. From 2008-2010, the number rose to about 355 each year, and then rose dramatically in 2011 to 421.
Nanotechnology continues to be a source of innovation in this and related technologies. See, for example, Abstract below US Patent Publication 2012/0190598 published July 26, 2012 to Pure Liquid Solutions, LLC, on “Metallic Nanoparticle Biocide in Industrial Applications.”
We confirm that a nanotechnology patent filing explosion continues at a record pace in 2012 as we enter the final trimester of the year. On July 8, 2012, we reported that the USPTO was on pace to publish a record number of class 977 nanotechnology patent applications (over 4,000). This was also noted in past postings and reflects a solid trend. We checked again today and confirm that the current projection to end of the year remains at over 4,000 (4,043). The broad variety of technology in the filings is startling and in places unconventional. For example, US Patent Publication 2012/0221268 (the last application to publish) relates to quantum computing and lists Microsoft as assignee. Hydraulic fracturing is increasingly referred to in this body of patent literature as there are 16 such publications this year which is double the number compared to the prior three years combined (e.g., Halliburton’s US Patent Publication 2012/0220504).
Hopefully, as many of these patent filings as possible will serve useful commercial purposes and facilitate investment from the private sector as well as from government. The licensing of these patent filings can be analyzed for use in policy formulation and business development. Certainly, the on-going miniaturization of electronic devices – a hot patent topic these days with the Apple v. Samsung developments - will require more developments in nanotechnology including, for example, better batteries, power management, semiconductors, and displays. Clearly, many of the patent filings find applications related to energy, electronics, and bio nanotechnology.
In addition, hopefully the quality of filings remains solid despite the pressures to file applications. Finally, (hopefully!), patent reform will function to improve the patent system and encourage investment, particularly as it applies to nanotechnology inventions.
Good to see advanced manufacturing and nanotechnology in the popular press again (see link). This was the lead, front page article in Sunday’s forum section of the newspaper I read … bought an “old-fashioned” hard copy to read it!
The USPTO has now in 2012, as of July 5, published 2,137 patent applications falling within the nanotech 977 classification. If that publication rate continues, 2012 will be another record year for nanotech patent application publishing at the USPTO. Aproximately 4,000 will publish this year if the trend continues. Last year, a record 3,439 nanotech 977 applications were published, so an explosively rapid rise is present.
Recently, I was invited to talk to the USPTO about nanotechnology later in July as part of the USPTO’s efforts to train examiners. With all of this nanotechnology patenting effort, clearly we will have a lot to talk about. If readers are interested in working with the PTO on giving talks on technology, please let us know.
The popular news webpage msnbc.com is featuring an article in their health section on bio nanotechnology with headline, “Gene healing in a lotion? Researchers say they’re close.” Northwestern University research is highlighted, coming from the laboratories of Professor Chad Mirkin.
The technology, as you can read, relates to siRNA methods. This an active area of nanotechnology with potentially blockbuster results to impress the public mind (revolution, not evolution). For example, I noted that terms like siRNA, RNAi, and miRNA appear in 3.4% of the class 977 patent publications published to date (440 out of 12,982). Also, a review article including IP and interference technologies and nanobio has been posted on the web.
Interesting to see a nanotechnology-related application made the Federal Circuit decisions this week (In re Mouttet, 2011-1451, June 26, 2012). Unfortunately for the applicant, the Court affirmed the US PTO’s determination and found the claim(s) obvious, using standards for administrative review which respect the US PTO’s factual findings.
One reason applicant lost, per court analysis, is that he argued “teaching away,” but failed to support his points by failing to cite references that help his argument. Evidence and facts are key.
So in “digging to the bottom” on obviousness, do not be limited by the art set forth by the examiner. Within the practicalities of time and money: think more broadly; dig deeper. Control the references under review.
First, if facing an obviousness rejection, take the references the examiner cites and view them in a way that is fair and reasonable but in your favor. Then, find other references. It is not fair that, considering the vast sea of prior art, the examiner usually only selects references that “help” the examiner to establish prima facie obviousness. Push back on this unlevel playing field. Control to the extent you can selecting the prior art on the table upon which 103 will be resolved. Build your facts.
Of course, this applies both to USPTO work and also larger opinion and litigation contexts.
Each case has its own twists, but this is an important lesson for this nanotechnology case. Some of the claims are cited below in the published application:
Claim 1. A computing device comprising: at least one crossbar array including a first set of N conductive parallel wires (N.gtoreq.2) forming a set of columns and a second set of M conductive parallel wires (M.gtoreq.2) forming a set of rows, and formed so as to intersect the first set of conductive parallel wires, wherein intersections are formed between the first and second sets of wires forming M.times.N crosspoints wherein each of the crosspoints is programmable so as to be in a relatively high conductive state representative of a binary value 1 or a relatively low conductive state representative of a binary value 0; a programming unit configured to program the crosspoints to have one of the relatively high conductive state or the relatively low conductive state so that at least one column of the crossbar array stores a bit pattern representative of a programmed numerical value; an input unit configured to provide a bit pattern representative of an input numerical value to the columns of the crossbar array; and a post-processing unit configured to convert analog signals output from each of the rows of the crossbar array into digital output bit patterns and configured to combine the digital output bit patterns so as to form a resultant bit pattern representative of an output numerical value, wherein the output numerical value is mathematically dependent on both the programmed numerical value and the input numerical value.
Claim 3. The computing device of claim 2, wherein the resistance layer includes a conducting polymer or an organic semiconductor.
Claim 6. The computing device of claim 1, wherein the wires of the at least one crossbar array are formed from individual nanotubes or nanotube ribbons.
Have been reading the 2011 book, Bottled Lightning, Superbatteries, Electric Cars, and the New Lithium Economy, by Seth Fletcher. An excellent read for anyone interested in cleantech and nanotech commercialization. The focus is on the lithium ion battery and its scientific, engineering, and manufacturing history. Also, its application to the electric car. The need for high energy density batteries at good cost is a fundamental challenge for nanotechnology (e.g., development nanophosphate battery packs). High surface area is a key parameter directly linked to nanotechnology. The book also draws attention to patent and licensing issues which was interesting. Much bang-for-the buck in this 215 page paperback – enjoy! Here is one public review.
Also, was at the US PTO Cleantech Customer Partnership Meeting this week. In the technical presentation, focus was more on wind and solar.
However, advanced batteries continue to be a critical aspect for cleantech and one of its flagship products, the electric car.