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"Nano-Aerobics" and the Patent System
Volume 2, Issue 4

M. Henry Heines, Townsend and Townsend and Crew LLP

As the interest and popularity of nanotechnology have grown, so too has the use of the prefix “nano-” by persons seeking to attract capital investment and generate interest in their products. At the same time, the PTO has been trying to both characterize nanotechnology patent applications within their existing system of subject matter classifications and develop appropriate standards for the examining of such applications. This article provides an overview of the growth in the use of the prefix “nano-” by inventors and how the PTO has handled the influx of nanotechnology-related applications. The proliferation in the use of the “nano-” prefix as well as the diversity of particle sizes that the term has been used to describe is illustrated by reference to several specific patents. Finally, the PTO’s interpretation of “nano-” in patents is discussed as well as the importance of including precise definitions for the term and its derivatives in the patent specification.

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