Nanotech Research


Bradshaw, S., Bowyer, A., and Haufe, P., The Intellectual Property Implications of Low-Cost 3D Printing, (2010) 

Summary: Producing 3-dimensional objects with nanobots may raise IP issues similar to the infringement fears revolving around 3-D printers.  While not widespread, 3-D printing is getting cheaper and will soon be available to smaller businesses and institutions, and one in the home.  Under current IP laws, making copies of a 3-D object are probably legal in most cases, since the duplicate is easily distinguishable from the original.  If the technology gets to the point where the copy is approaching an exact duplicate of the original, the best approach to protecting intellectual property under current laws is design patents, then copyright, and possibly trademark.

See also: Rundle, Michael, Pirate Bay Hosts Physical Objects - And Is Accused Of Infringing Games Workshop Copyright?, The Huffington Post, Jan. 25, 2012.  (File-sharing website hosting downloadable files containing machine-readable specifications of commercially available toy for certain models of 3-D printers).


International Center for Technology Assessment, Principles for the oversight of nanotechnologies and nanomaterials, Feb. 18, 2008.

Summary:  Report put out by a coalition of public interest, environmental, and labor organizations calling for the responsible development of nanotechnology and appropriate legislation to “safeguard the health and safety of the public and workers; conserve our natural environment; [and] ensure public participation and democratically decided social goals. . .”


Chu, Yueh-ru.  Reporting Requirements Under The Toxic Substances Control Act And Proposed California State Regulations, Green Technology Law and Business 2012: Strategies for Investment and IP Protection, and What Mainstream Companies Need to Know About Using CleanTech, Practising Law Institute, Feb. 24, 2012.

Summary:  Recently the EPA released new guidelines requiring the special treatment of nano-scale versions of chemicals including special toxicity testing for “certain nanoclays, nanoscale aluminum oxide, and nanotubes.”  California is also proposing new legislation that includes guidelines specific to nanotechnology.  Of note, statutory definitions for “nanostructure,” “nanoscale,” nanoscale phenomena,” and “nanomaterial.”



Hall, Ralph F., Legal Issues In Nanotechnology: New Sizes – New Issues, Indiana University School of Law.

Summary:  Nanoparticles may have significantly different properties than conventional materials; they may appear to behave chemically different due the increased surface area of the material.  This has the potential to require rewriting regulatory laws to take account for changes in conception of definitions and concepts used to categorize and regulate materials.



Abe, Lisa K., Nanotechnology Law: The legal issues from a Canadian Perspective, Dec. 9 2010.

Summary:  The technological differences between nanotechnology and conventional technology present problems with patentability and the traditional notions of IP classification.



Kalpin, Mark and Votaw, James.  Prepare now for future nanotech legal issues, Massachusetts High Tech Journal, Vol. 24, Issue 48, Nov. 24, 2006.

Summary:  Under the robust U.S. environmental protection laws nanotechnology companies will have to take care to assess the new materials with new properties that nanotech produces.  Companies will also have to mitigate risks to employees working in the production or handling of these materials.




Cornwell, David and Featherstone, Donald, IP Issues in Nanotechnology: A view from around the world, Mar. 10, 2004.

Summary: Intellectual property law in the U.S. and most of the world will not recognize as patentable a smaller version of something that already exists.  The thinking is that a nano-scale device which is simply a shrunken-down version is obvious.  Other IP international IP issues, while not exclusive to nanotech (like piracy, etc.) will require inventors and researchers to be mindful of differences in IP regimes in relevant markets.