Nanotech Digest

A new nanotechnology cross-reference digest of prior art is the first step in an effort to improve the USPTO’s ability to search and examine nanotechnology-related patent applications, a USPTO official said on November 5, 2004.  Ultimately, the agency plans to develop a more complete set of relevant definitions, subclasses, and search notes to guide examiners in their evaluation of nanotechnology inventions.  The new cross-reference digest is part of the agency’s effort to develop a comprehensive collection of prior art titled “Class 977, Nanotechnology.”  The digest was compiled by conducting extensive word searches to identify patents in the USPTO’s database that met the definition of nanotechnology developed by the National Nanotechnology Initiative.  The NNI defines nanotechnology in part as “research and technology development at the atomic, molecular, or macromolecular levels, in the length scale of approximately 1-100 nanometer (nm) range, to provide a fundamental understanding of phenomena and materials at the nanoscale and to create and use structures, devices, and systems that have novel properties and functions because of their small and/or intermediate size.”  To enhance the examining corps’ ability to evaluate patent applications with nanotechnology components, the official said that the USPTO sends 50 examiners each month to the Atlanta Nano Forum, in Alexandria, Virginia, an industry-sponsored series of detailed lectures in specified areas of technology.


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