NANOTECHNOLOGY AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
Among the emerging technologies, nanotechnology is one of the most prominent examples and it raises high expectations in a wide range of areas affecting daily life. Nanotechnology is a science which operates at an extremely small scale, as it uses the size of a so-called nanoscale, which is approximately between 1 and 100 nanometres, or 1 to 100 billionths of a meter. There are two main ways of applying nanotechnology so far: one is the top-down approach, whereby structures are made smaller and smaller until they reach a nanometric scale. The other approach is the bottom-up approach, by which elements at the nanoscale are chosen and assembled to form some sort of matter or mechanism. This way of manipulating matter at the atomic level obviously bears the potential of enormous developments.
While commercialization of nanotechnology products so far has been relatively modest, recent and current research activities allow to forecast extraordinary results for the benefit of humankind in a foreseeable future.
While inventions in the field of nanotechnology would, as a general rule, appear to qualify for patent protection, subject to the fulfilment of the relevant conditions of patentability, there are a number of issues that may need further consideration, including the granted claims are overly broad, due at least in part to a lack of available prior art, which could allow patent holders to lock up huge areas of technology. In this context, there is also a perceived risk of overlapping patents.
What is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual Property is any tangible asset that is created from an original thought, such as an idea, name, content, design, invention or digital media. Intellectual Property is protected in law by, for example:
- Patents / Utility Innovations
- Trade Secrets
The protection enables people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create by striking the right balance between interests of innovators and the wider public interest.
What is a Patent?
If you have a new invention that solves a specific problem in any field of technology or industry, and you wish to impede your competitors or any other people from exploiting your hard work, then it is prudent to have your invention patented.
In short, patent provides you with a set of exclusive rights to exclude others from manufacturing, using, selling, or distributing your new invention without your permission for a period of time. Hence, it can be said that you are the sole person permitted to exploit your new invention.
In order to qualify for a patent, according to Patents Act 1983, Section 11, an invention is patentable if it is new, involves an inventive step and is industrially applicable.
What is a Utility Innovation?
Similar to patents, as it protects new technical inventions through granting an exclusive right to prevent others from commercially exploiting the protected inventions without consents.
Utility Innovations are considered particularly suited for protecting inventions that make small improvements to, and adaptations of, existing products or that have a short commercial life.
The requirement to obtain protection is less stringent as the requirement of inventive step is omitted.
Copyright touches our everyday life. Authors of works covered by copyright have rights over their literary and artistic works.
However, copyright protection extends only to expressions, and not to ideas, procedures, methods of operation or mathematical concepts as such.
A trademark can be registered to protect a brand, a name of a product or a service.
Registration of a trademark will confer an exclusive right to the use of the registered trademark. This implies that the trademark can be exclusively used by its owner or licensed to another party.
A trade secret consists of information that can include a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique or process. A trade secret must be used in business, and gives an opportunity to obtain an economic advantage over competitors who do not know or use it.
In short, a trade secret is information that is not known to the public, subject to reasonable efforts to maintain secrecy.