At a recent nanotech conference hosted by the NanoBusiness Commercialization Association, we received an update on nanotech patent trends from Jerry Lorengo, a Group Director with the US Patent Office. Jerry provided a great overview of the latest patent trends in Class 977, the particular area defined as nanotechnology by the US Patent Office:

“Nanotechnology is the understanding and control of matter at dimensions of roughly 1 to 100 nanometers (a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter), where unique phenomena enable novel applications… At this level, the physical, chemical, and biological properties of materials differ in fundamental and valuable ways from the properties of individual atoms and molecules or bulk matter.”

What I found particularly interesting about Jerry’s slides (click here for the full deck: nano-patents) was a comparison by country of nanotech-related patents that were filed in 3 or more countries. This really separates out important inventions, i.e., the ones where the applicants felt it was important enough to invest in multiple country patent filings. When this category is reviewed, US-originated nanotech patent filings account for 32% from 1986-2011, while Japan-originated nanotech patent filings account for 24.7%. The next closest country is Germany at 8.4%.