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Carbon Nanotubes: Tracing the Growth of a Young Technology Through Patents
Volume 7, Issue 1

M. Henry Heines

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have exploded on the technology scene since their discovery in the late 1980s, and their emergence in almost every field of technology from electronics to materials of construction to DNA is readily seen in the patent literature. The number of new U.S. patent filings reciting CNTs in their claims has soared year after year, and their success rate in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office far exceeds that of U.S. patent applications in general. In addition to the growth in CNT-claiming patent filings, the proportion of those applications in which CNTs appear in the first claim, the growth in the range of subject matters addressed by the patents, and the expansion in the organizations, both industrial and academic, to which the patents have been granted all testify to the growing importance of CNTs and the opportunities that CNTs offer for new proprietary positions through intellectual property.

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