Slow patent process hurts nanotech progress

In nano on October 29, 2006 at 6:43 pm

By Jon Van

October 29, 2006

The impact is one of perception

Just as it’s getting traction spawning new companies and products, the hot nanotechnology sector is running into a roadblock at the U.S. Patent Office.

As the time it takes to process patent applications now averages almost four years, double the time it took in 2004, nanotech entrepreneurs are beginning to worry that their ability to raise money to develop products may be stifled.

‘Clearly there’s a danger,’ said Stephen Maebius, a partner in the Foley & Lardner law firm, of the patent application backlog. ‘If you cross a threshold and it’s taking too long, potential financial backers wonder if what you have is patentable or not.’

Maebius, along with Vahe Mamikunian, an analyst with Lux Research, co-authored a recent report that noted that nanotech-related patent applications have grown by an average 20 percent over the past few years, compared to just 2 percent average growth in general applications. The number of patents issued also grew by 20 percent a year until 2005, when they increased by only 4 percent, the report found.
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