Nanotechnology patent harmonisation

United Kingdom

Nanotechnology research aims to control fundamental structure and behaviour of matter at an atomic and molecular level. It is estimated that nanotechnology products and processes are worth €2.5 billion. This is expected to increase to hundreds of billions of Euros by 2010.

The European Commission has recently published a communication outlining its action plan for nanotechnology over the next five years. Nanotechnology has applications in a variety of fields including drug delivery, computer processing and solar energy. The action plan produced by the Commission deals with a broad range of issues, which include funding of research and development and addressing safety and environmental concerns.

To view the report, please click here. This will open a PDF in a new window.

In addition to the various proposals to improve R&D, the Commission has also presented proposals for the establishment of a nanotechnology patent monitoring system, which the Commission suggests may be managed by the European Patent Office (EPO).

The Commission also wishes to harmonise the practices involved in the processing of nanotechnology patent applications between the patent offices such as the EPO, the US Patent and Trade Mark Office and the Japanese Patent Office.

The Commission has requested Member States to reach agreement as soon as possible on the adoption of the community patent, which was abandoned due to lack of agreement between Member States.

The patenting of nanotechnology inventions in Europe is evolving more slowly than in other parts of the world. The Commission has stressed that the importance of global harmonisation in the application of nanotechnology patents will result in a more efficient global patenting system.

For further information, please contact Sarah Hanson on +44(0) 207 367 2559 or at [email protected], Nick Beckett on +44 (0) 207 367 2490 or at [email protected] or Aasim Qureshi on +44(0) 207 367 3620 or at [email protected]