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.
The USPTO is now announcing that its next clean tech customer partnership meeting will be held on June 12, 2012 at 1-5 p.m. at its Alexandria, VA campus (South Auditorium, Madison Building). Those who wish to attend can contact Jill Warden, 571-272-1267 (email@example.com). This will be the second customer partnership meeting; the first was held in May 2011.
Note: the USPTO is no longer accepting the petitions to make special based on its green technology pilot program. Somewhat surprisingly, the leading tech center (TC) for the petitions was TC 2800 (Semiconductors). Less surprising, the other two leading tech centers for the petitions were Chemical (TC 1700) and Mechanical (TC 3700).
Today, a fresh crop of 102 nanotech class 977 patent publications were published at the US PTO. The total now for 2012 is 1,249, which projects to the end of the year to be 3,608. If this continues through 2012, it will be another record year for publishing nanotech 977 patent applications. The numbers go up each year: last year 2011 was 3,439; the year before 2,770 (2010); and before than 1,499 (2009). Hence, the number has more than doubled in but two years.
The 977 nanotech patent applications cover the gamut of nanotech commercial application spaces including personalized medicine, cleantech, defense, semiconductors, and the like. See, for example, US Pat. Pub. 2012/0088235 published April 12, 2012 for rapid DNA sequencing, which is critical to personalized medicine.
Hopefully, government is working with venture capital on how best to adapt the investment systems for commercializing nanotech innovations (e.g., technology transfer from universities and federal labs, including the Bayh-Dole system). Otherwise, many opportunities will be wasted.
Based on review of the US PTO webpage statistics today, the PTO should still be accepting green tech petitions for accelerated examination. The PTO had declared in December that they would stop the program upon granting of 3,500 petitions, or upon reaching the date, March 30, 2012, whichever occurs first. As of the statistics posted today, only 3,375 petitions have been granted. Hence, the program should still be open, in theory at least. However, caution: the statistics also show 335 petitions are being considered, so if a petition is filed now, it may not be reviewed in time.
When this program expires, patent applicants can still file for a track I accelerated examination.
Each Tuesday, including today, November 9, 2010, a fresh crop of new patents are published by the US PTO. Today, for example, 16 new nanotechnology class 977 patents issued. To date, 2010 has been a bumper year for the 977 type of nanotech patents, as the PTO has granted 674 nanopatents with seven Tuesdays to go. That is a very large increase over 2009 (530 nanopatents); 2008 (431 nanopatents); 2007 (344 nanopatents); and 2006 (276 nanopatents). There are 6,510 of these 977 nanopatents as of today.
Who is patenting?
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David Kappos, leader of the US PTO for about a year now, has now issued a blog (see http://www.uspto.gov/blog/) which summarizes his first year and looks ahead. In this first year, the PTO has carried out a series of innovative initiatives which are summarized in the blog and need not be repeated in detail here. For cleantech, Kappos relays an expansion of a relevant program:
Green Technology Pilot Program: This program to provide accelerated examination of patent applications for innovations related to environmentally friendly and energy conservation technologies started in December 2009. As of August 31, 2010, 1,477 Green Technology petitions have been received into our Green Tech Pilot Program. This number represents very strong applicant uptake – nearly 50 percent of the upper limit originally set for the program. We anticipate further expansion of this program in the coming months.
Other points relate to reducing the backlog, compact prosecution, hiring more examiners, and better IT. Six other programs are noted in addition to the Green Technology Pilot Program.
Taken together, we see evidence from these pieces that the PTO is active and awake. We agree the Green Technology program should be expanded. The number of cases, 1,477, strikes us as low in view of the need.
The most important initiative is the three track system being planned. The patent system needs to be flexible enough that those applicants, and those in the public, who want a fast examination should be able to get it. At the same time, for those many applicants who want to defer costs and let the markets mature, no point in hurrying the process within reason.
The PTO’s new Facebook page is noted. Facebook?!
Nanotechnology should continue to be a priority for examiner training so that, among other reasons, the country can make the most of its large investment via the NNI in nanotechnology.
Do you believe the PTO is working and getting better, Facebook and all?
The US PTO recently announced new invitations for technical experts to visit them and lecture to the PTO to train their examiners. See, http://www.uspto.gov/patents/pettp.jsp
Our experiences with these lectures in the past, given by clients, have been positive. Turnouts have been large with "buzz" in the room. It is a "win-win" and enables patentees to more deeply participate in and contribute to the nation’s patent system. Speakers gain from increased exposure to their companies and technologies.
The PTO announcements cover a broad array of technologies including many nanotechnologies. While the PTO program is self-explanatory, please contact us if you believe you would like some help in participating in this program.