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Former patent examiner concerned about nanotech patent thicket

From Newswire Today: Raj Bawa, a former patent examiner and now biotech consultant and Adjunct Assistant Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, writes in the journal Nanomedicine on his concerns about the growing nanotech “patent thicket” and its negative impact on innovation:

“According to Dr. Raj Bawa, author of a recent paper titled ‘Will the nanomedicine “patent land grab” thwart commercialization?’ published online on Dec. 19, 2005 in Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine, the critical role of patents to the nanomedicine ‘revolution’ cannot be underestimated…

“In some areas, this situation has led to what is known as ‘patent thicket’ – an overlapping set of patent rights requiring those seeking to commercialize new technology obtain licensees from multiple patentees. According to Bawa, such a classic patent thicket seems to be developing in the area of carbon nanotubes. The race for nanotech patents has not only produced overlapping patents, but has produced a flood of ‘unduly broad’ nanopatents.

” ‘Patent thickets are considered to discourage and stifle innovation’ says Bawa. ‘Claims in such patent thickets have been characterized as often broad, overlapping and conflicting – a scenario ripe for massive patent litigation battles in the future.’

“According to Bawa, nanomedicine start-ups may soon find themselves in patent disputes with large, established companies, as well as between themselves. In most of the patent battles the larger entity with the deeper pockets will rule the day even if the innovators are on the other side.” (Credit: Instapundit)

6 Responses to “Former patent examiner concerned about nanotech patent thicket”

  1. Britney Says:

    I agree with him this not doubt has a negative affect on the industry and would hate to think just all the nig companies get all the great inventions to come from the nano tech industry!

  2. Christine Peterson Says:

    I think the previous comment has a typo — it should say “big companies”.

  3. Marvin Motsenbocker Says:

    Dr. Bawa has a good point. This problem is similar to what the software industry has faced. We need a higher quality patent office. Unfortunately most patent examiners do not understand English well and also are not given enough time to evaluate patent applications properly. This problem partly has resulted from our poor quality government.

  4. Drew Harris Says:

    Having attended the Nanomedicine conference, I have no doubt that pharmaceutical companies understand the importance of patents to their business. But even big pharma is going to have litigation problems when investment companies start buying up patents from research startups and bankroll huge patent suits against big companies. I’ve already seen this trend in big ticket securities litigation, where investment companies buy up worthless securities so that they are essentially “buying” a securities fraud claim against another company. Given the damages awarded in patent cases, I predict we will eventually see some investment companies “buying” nanotech patent suits from startups against big companies.

  5. Jonathan Grant Says:

    Regrettably, as a result of “overlapping patents,” the nanotech industry will have to spend much of its capital on patent litigation instead of R&D.

  6. jerry Says:

    i think drew and marvin are both partially correct.in any event,our already overworked legal system is in for some changes,possibly, a specialty court system?

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