Inconsistencies in the Carbon Nanotube Patent Space: A Scientific Perspective
Volume 5, Issue 1
Oscar M. Dunens, University of Sydney, Australia
Kieran J. Mackenzie, University of Sydney, Australia
Chee Howe See, University of Sydney, Australia
Andrew T. Harris, University of Sydney, Australia
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are tubular, crystalline, carbon structures with extraordinary physical, chemical, mechanical, optical, and electrical properties. These properties make CNTs valuable in a large number of end-use applications, the market for which is forecast to reach multi-billion dollar value within a decade. This in turn has lead to aggressive patenting practices; however, a lack of scientific guidance on the requirements for carbon nanotube patenting has resulted in patents that do not unambiguously describe many aspects of the “product and process” of CNTs. In this article, the authors—as engineers rather than lawyers—discuss critical issues related to the patenting of nanotube inventions. These include: 1) adequately defining the CNT material, 2) structural patentability, and 3) characterizing the detailed morphology and CNT properties. This is followed by a brief discussion on the relationship between the CNT product, synthesis conditions and growth apparatus, and the impact this will have on the level of detail required for future patent applications.
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