Quantum Dots - Who Controls the Patents on Quantum Dots?

Topics Covered

Background

The Conflict Between QDC and Evident Technologies Regarding Water-Soluble Semiconductor Nanocrystals

How the Lack of a Standardized Vocabulary for Processing Quantum Dots Can Lead to Problems

Patenting Quantum Dots - a Summary of the Current Situation and Future Trends

Background

According to Lux Research’s Matthew Nordan, two companies - Nanosys and QDC - claim to have divvied up exclusive licenses to all key patents on quantum dots, with QDClaying claim to biological applications and Nanosys claiming everything else. Founded in 1998, QDC develops and sells semiconductor nanocrystals for biological, biochemical and biomedical applications. QDC has licensed 22 patents and owns or has licensed over 90 US and international patent applications currently under examination.

The Conflict Between QDC and Evident Technologies Regarding Water-Soluble Semiconductor Nanocrystals

QDC asserts that “only QDC can provide…licensed water-soluble nanocrystal-linker compounds for biological uses.” Nonetheless, Evident Technologies of Troy, NY (USA) markets proprietary water-soluble semiconductor nanocrystals for biomolecule detection. Evident says they are not infringing QDC’s patents, but as Lux’s Nordan points out, “one of these two standpoints is wrong.”

How the Lack of a Standardized Vocabulary for Processing Quantum Dots Can Lead to Problems

The lack of standardized terminology may have led to the granting of over-lapping patents, with claims that read very differently but do in fact describe the same processes or products. For example, a broad patent search using keywords (including semiconductor nanocrystals, quantum dot, nanodot) brings up only one of Evident’s five patents, all of which refer to prior art related to the optical effects of nanocrystals.

Table 1. Patents on quantum dots issued by the US PTO from 1999 to 2004 (survey conducted on 2 May 2005).

Top Assignees - 146 patents total

Country

Number of patents

MIT

USA

15

University of California

USA

12

Quantum Dot Corporation

USA

10

Technology & Devices Intl.

USA

7

IBM

 

7

Sony Corporation

Japan

7

University of Illinois

USA

6

Texas Instruments

USA

6

Electronics and Telecommunications Research

Korea

6

Matsushita Electric Industrial

Co., Ltd.

Japan

5

Fujitsu Limited

Japan

5

Patenting Quantum Dots - a Summary of the Current Situation and Future Trends

•        ETC Group’s list of top quantum dot patent assignees reveals that university labs have actively pursued patents on quantum dot related research. The concentration in ownership of key quantum dot patents (especially the dominant positions of Nanosys and Quantum Dot Corporation)is obscured, however, partly because patent assignees are not disclosed.

•        There is enormous potential for overlapping and conflicting patents in the quantum dot arena. The 146 patents issued by the USPTO from 1999-2004 on quantum dots technology had 71 different patent examiners. Different examiners in different departments may have reviewed different prior art, leading to the issuance of patents that might otherwise be rejected.

•        While the number of US patents related to quantum dots did not experience dramatic growth from 2001-2004, patent applications in the area of quantum dots are increasing every year. The trend suggests that patent activity in this area will be even more crowded, and complex, in the immediate future.

Source: ETC Group report entitled ‘Nanotech’s “Second Nature” Patents: Implications for the Global South’, April/May 2005.

For more information on this source please visit the ETC Group

Comments

  1. Christian-Fredrick Mattner Christian-Fredrick Mattner United Kingdom says:

    The Russian results are hardly being recognised  in the west--I know of  numerous examples were western patents have been granted to Russian research/success

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of AZoNano.com.

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