Nanotechnology and patents in Europe

(Nanowerk News) The number of European applications filed for nanotechnology-related inventions has more than tripled since the mid-1990s.
EPO brochure Nanotechnology and patents
The interdisciplinary nature of nanotechnology poses a challenge for patent offices, legal representatives, inventors and applicants alike.

A new brochure (Nanotechnology and patents; pdf) from the European Patent Office (EPO) explains how to get started if you want to search for nanotechnology inventions in patent databases, and what to look out for if you are thinking about applying to the EPO for a nanotechnology patent yourself.

In order to monitor the impact of nanotechnology on the development of new products, the European Patent Office uses the following definition to identify patents in this area: The term nanotechnology covers entities with a controlled geometrical size of at least one functional component below 100 nanometres (nm) in one or more dimensions susceptible of making physical, chemical or biological effects available which are intrinsic to that size.

Basic requirements for European patent applications

All European patent applications, including those relating to nanotechnology, have to meet the requirements of the European Patent Convention (EPC).

To get your nanotechnology patent granted:
  • – your invention must be new (the principle of "novelty")
  • – it must involve an inventive step, and
  • – it must be susceptible to industrial application.
  • Furthermore, the invention must be adequately disclosed and the claims of the application must be clear, concise and supported by the description.
    Source: European Patent Office
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