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May 17, 2007

European Commission Publishes Results of Intellectual Property Rights Workshop

Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 10, 2007, the European Commission (EC) announced the availability of the results of its April 16, 2007, workshop on intellectual property rights (IPR) in nanotechnology. The objective of the workshop was to identify specific IPR issues for nanotechnology and to discuss possible consequences for patent offices, policy makers, patent consultants, and the research community.  Ongoing academic and political discussions have identified many aspects, such as the costs of patenting and the accessibility of patents for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) or developing countries; the need for a transparent and clearly defined scope of patent protection; the implications of “nanopatent land grab” and “patent thickets”; “nanotech patent battles”; and “second nature” and “monopoly patent.”  The discussions were aiming at possible actions specific for nanotechnology, i.e., the need for a better patent monitoring system of nanotechnology for patent application and examining, technology analysis, and policy advice purposes, the possible need for harmonization between the European Union (EU), the U.S., and Japan, the need for a new nanotechnology patent regime, the development of guidelines for the protection of IPR and models for consortium and licensing agreements, lessons for collaborative research projects, and other research collaborations.